Three games into the 2012 season, Jordan Reid is back where he anticipated being this season–starting at quarterback for North Carolina Central. The redshirt junior from High Point impressed NCCU head coach Henry Frazier with his performance in Saturday’s 54-17 loss to Duke.
“Man, if I don’t put Jordan out there, they’re going to run me out of town,” Frazier said. “I was born at night, not last night. We’ll throw Jordan out there, we’ll hand the ball to him and give him a week of running with the starters and let him have his opportunity.”
Reid threw for 218 yards after replacing Matt Goggans in the first quarter against Duke. He completed 17 of his 26 passes and also rushed for a score.
“That was the best I’ve seen him look,” Frazier said. “He came in, he was composed; he ran the ball a little bit, he threw some strikes. I was happy for him. You could see the confidence.”
“My confidence is always high,” Reid said. “You have to have that at the quarterback position, because it’s contagious throughout the team.”
The High Point native is in his third year at NCCU. He arrived in Durham in 2009 after redshirting his freshman year at Winston-Salem State. Saturday will be his second collegiate start, both of them coming at Savannah State.
How ugly have the first two games of Savannah State’s 2012 season been? To use a biblical term– abominable! In fact, the best question to ask about the direction of teams like Savannah State comes from The World’s All-Time Best Seller. Not to get into theology, but thinking of SSU’s losses to Oklahoma State and Florida State respectively, I am reminded of the question Jesus asked his disciples: For what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his soul?
Exchange the words “man” for “program” and there you have the Savannah State situation in a nutshell. The last two weeks this historical black university has subjected itself to brutal losses at the hands of major college football programs for $850,000.
These “money games” are nothing new in college football. Teams at the lower end of the Division I spectrum have been handed wads of cash to play teams they have no business competing against for years and in return, high-profile schools get to beat up on them. But the Tigers took it to a whole new level over the past weeks, losing the two games by a combined score of 139-0. And the Florida State game ended early thanks to
divine intervention lightning.
While SSU Athletic Director Donald Sterling has said he plans on playing at least two “money games” per year, head coach coach Steve Davenport sounded as if he wasn’t so sure about that proposition.
“You get paid for certain things, but I don’t know if at the end of the day, some things are worth the payments you get,” Davenport told the Associated Press. “But we’ll see. Those are conversations we’ll have.”
A conversation Savannah State, as well as some other HBCUs should be having is whether or not they belong in Division I. Losses like this may help the bottom line of a struggling athletic department and may be good for a cupcake win but in the long haul, they are neither good for the student-athletes or the HBCU brand in particular.
To say Savannah State is no football powerhouse is an understatement. The football team won less than 20 games total in their first ten years as a Division I-AA Independent football team. Last season, the team was the worst in the MEAC conference, posting a 1-10 record overall. Appalachian State ’06, Savannah State is not.
Simply put, Savannah State had no business out on the field with either OK State or FSU the past two weeks. Surely the coaches knew this and in their heart of hearts, even the players had to know this. I’m sure they practiced hard and talked a good game. But everyone knew what the end result would be. The coaches and administration can spin to the media all they want about “competition” but simply put, they did their program a huge disservice. What self-respecting athlete would want to play for a school that would embarrass itself and them by playing in games they have no hope, or even intention, of winning?
Prior to the FSU game, Davenport was reported to have told his team “We’re going to forget about Oklahoma State, and next week we’re going to forget about Florida State.” This was prior to the FSU game, according to the Savannah Morning News.
This is not to pick on Savannah State exclusively, though. While this may be an extreme case, it is far from a solitary one. Many cash-strapped HBCUs find themselves auctioning off games to the highest bidders in an effort to keep afloat athletic programs that just don’t have the resources to compete on a Division I level.
I witnessed this situation first hand during my time at Winston-Salem State University. WSSU announced its intention to move to Division I during my freshman year and spent the majority of my time there in transition to the MEAC. For a multitude of reasons, the money necessary to complete the move was not there in the end. Even though I was against moving back to Division II at the time, I can concede that I’m happier with them being a competitive DII school than seeing my university become the laughingstock of the college football world.
“I hate to see players put into positions where there is that much of a disparity,” the former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said in a telephone interview before Saturday’s game. Referring to Oklahoma State’s 84-point win, he added, “To see that score that we saw last week, I don’t see any positives in that.”
Me either, Lloyd. A wise man once told me, if you can’t pay for the car note and the gas, maybe you don’t need a BMW.
Overall, HBCUs are proud institutions with a spectacular history of doing more with less and making it work. No one game can change that. But in today’s Division I football, the lines between the “haves” and the “have nots” are greater than ever. Schools like Savannah State must fully weigh the cost of remaining in Division I and if they can’t do it without laying down while allowing big-time programs to get their jollies off of them, perhaps they should reassess their aspirations.
Bethune-Cookman at South Carolina State
Out of all the marquee games in the conference this week, this battle in Orangeburg may have the most impact come the end of the season. SC State and BCU were predicted to finish second and third in the conference respectively and both are coming off impressive non-conference wins.
SC State dominated Georgia State last week, picking up a 33-3 win in the Georgia Dome. Redshirt junior quarterback Richard Cue threw for three touchdowns and a career-high 300 yards. BCU trailed Alabama State 21-0 in the first half before reeling off 38 unanswered points to take home the MEAC/SWAC Challenge crown.
As spectacular as last week’s win was, BCU cannot get down three touchdowns in Orangeburg and expect to win the game. SC State’s defense stifled GA State and will look to do the same against BCU.
Bottom Line: Whoever wins this game will have a huge leg up come playoff time.
Old Dominion at Hampton
Hampton returns to the confines of Armstrong Stadium to find itself jumping out of the frying pan and into the fryer as it hosts local rival Old Dominion. Looking to rebound from last week’s 41-31 loss at Tennessee Tech, Hampton finds itself up against one of the FCS Division’s top teams from its backyard in ODU. The Monarchs are currently ranked fifth in the country and have supplanted the Pirates as the Tidewater’s premiere team in the division by defeating them both times the two teams have met.
Last week ODU defeated Duquesne 57-23 in it’s home opener as quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw for nearly 500 yards and four touchdowns. Not good for a Hampton team that allowed Tennessee Tech to throw for 339 yards and four touchdowns. Heinicke did, however throw three interceptions, so there may be some opportunities to take advantage of there.
Hampton’s offense will also be under the microscope to produce better numbers all around. They gained only 89 yards rushing against Tennessee Tech, averaging a scant three yards per game. The offense played better in the second half, but was still out-gained nearly 3 to 1 last week.
Bottom Line: If the Pirates hope to have any chance at an upset, the running game must be more productive and keep the ODU offense and their own defense off the field for the majority of the game.
Norfolk State at Liberty
No offense to Virginia State, but the Spartans season starts here. NSU was simply dominant defensively against VSU, recording seven sacks, 17 tackles for loss and four takeaways. Linebacker Jamal Giddens was named the NCAA’s FCS Defensive Player of The Week despite not playing in the game’s second half.
They will face a much tougher opponent this week as they travel to Lynchburg to take on Liberty. The Flames came very close to upsetting the ACC’s Wake Forest in Winston-Salem last week, eventually losing 20-17. They out gained the Demon Deacons by 70 yards Simply put– the Spartan defense will be in for a test.
Offensively, the Spartans will need more out of quarterback Nico Flores if they want to pick up the win on the road. Flores was 13 for 24 passing for just 93 yards against VSU, also throwing two interceptions. The running game was solid with 223 yards, but 64 of those yards came on one run by Brendon Riddick.
Bottom Line: Flores and the offense will have to do better if Norfolk State wants to defeat Liberty and stay ranked in the FCS Top 25.
Delaware State vs. Delaware
Delaware State definitely turned some heads last week when it defeated Virginia Military Institute 17-10 last week. This week the Hornets take on their in-state rival, Delaware. Delaware has won all three meetings between the state’s only Division I schools. The have outscored DSU 116-14 in those matchups. The Hens are ranked 15th in the FCS and are coming off a 41-21 win over West Chester.
North Carolina Central at Elon
North Carolina Central comes into this game high off of last week’s 54-31 win over Fayetteville State, their first at home since 2010. Conversely, Elon must have had a long ride down I-40 last week after the 62-0 beating they took at the hands of North Carolina.
Eagles showed some flashes on offense last week as new starting quarterback Matt Goggans continued to build a repoir with his teammates. The transfer completed 15 of 26 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown in his NCCU debut. The Eagles ground game was solid, gaining 197 yards as a collective unit.
Two areas of concern for NCCU: Tackling and special teams. Several FSU drives were prolonged by missed tackles last week and the special teams unit had both punts and kicks blocked.
Bottom line: Fundamental tackling and crisp special team play will be needed to ensure NCCU gets off to a 2-0 start.
Savannah State at Florida State
This one makes the notable list for all the wrong reasons. One week after an embarrassing 84-0 loss, Savannah State is listed as a 70 1/2 underdog to Florida State. On the bright side, at least the ride to Tallahassee to pick up the check is closer than the flight out to Oklahoma last week.
Bottom line: SSU can’t lose any worse than last week. Can it?
Howard At Rutgers
West Va. State at NC A&T
FAMU at Oklahoma
This is the fourth in a series of posts ranking the greatest HBCU to NFL players, by position. Only players whose college careers started after 1970 were considered.
If ever there was an NFL Hall of Famer who continually beat the odds, it’s Shannon Sharpe. Sharpe grew up poor, raised by his maternal grandmother in Snellville, Georgia. He struggled academically and lived in the shadow of his older brother, Sterling, who was a football standout. While his older brother Sterling went on to play big-time college football at the University of South Carolina, Sharpe ended up playing his college ball at nearby Savannah State. Sharpe vividly recalled his transition to SSU during his 2011 Hall-of-Fame Induction Speech.
“When I left my grandmother’s home in 1986 headed to Savannah State with two brown grocery bags filled with my belongings, nothing was going to keep me from realizing my dreams. When people told me I wasn’t going to make it, I listened to the one person who told me I was, me.”
Sharpe was a standout at SSU, earning All-SIAC honors his final three years and Division 2 All-America honors in his senior year.
Still, success on the professional level seemed like a long-shot for Sharpe. While his brother was quickly becoming a superstar with the Green Bay Packers, the younger Sharpe waited until the seventh round of the 1990 NFL draft before being selected by the Denver Broncos. Sharpe found himself trying to transition from small-school college receiver to professional tight end. According to Sharpe, he almost failed to make the cut for the Broncos his rookie season.
“I played on special teams and I got 20 offensive plays, had 12 knock down blocks. I’m not proud to say I was cutting everything that moves. When they went back into the room on Saturday, my name was off the board. I made it.”
Sharpe would go on to do more than just make the team. He would go on to set a new standard for which all tight ends would be set against. Sharpe was quarterback John Elway’s most consistent target in the 1990s and one of the most dangerous weapons in the league during his era. By the time Sharpe retired 14 seasons later, he owned his positions’ record for receptions (815), yards (10,060) and touchdowns (62), all of which have been broken by Tony Gonzales. Sharpe also won three Super Bowl rings in his career, two with Denver (97-98) and one with Baltimore (2001).
Runner Up: Jimmy Giles-Alcorn State
The phrase “ahead of his time” is often overused in sports, but not when referencing Jimmie Giles. The 6’3 tight end from Alcorn State was picked in the third round of the 1977 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. At that time, most tight ends were little more than blockers who caught a pass or two every few games. Giles, too, was used in this manner for his first few seasons.
That changed in 1979 when he and former Grambling QB Doug Williams teamed up to lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the NFC Championship game in just the team’s fourth season. Giles caught 40 passes and found the endzone seven times. Unlike most tight ends of that era, Giles was a serious deep threat, averaging almost 15 yards per catch for his career. Giles finished with 350 receptions, 5,084 yards and 50 touchdowns upon his retirement following the 1989 season. One has to wonder how much those numbers would have been improved if he had been more heavily utilized during his prime years in Tampa Bay.
Giles, like Williams, had problems with Tampa Bay management and coaching staff. This was reflected in his stats, which show a dip from 1982-1984, when he should have been hitting his prime. He rebounded in 1985 to be selected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his career after catching 43 passes and 8 touchdowns with an amazing average of 15.7 yards per catch.
“He could have been one of the all-time best tight ends, if they would have used him more,” said former Buc teammate Gerald Carter.
Honorable Mention: Ben Coates-Livingstone
Like many HBCU to NFL stars, Ben Coates took an unconventional route to the NFL. The South Carolina native didn’t play football until his senior year of high school. While at Livingstone, Coates was a multi-sport athlete who broke records and impressed scouts enough to be picked by the New England Patriots in the fifth round of the 1991 NFL Draft.
Coates career really took off when the Pats drafted QB Drew Bledsoe. From 1993, Bledsoe’s rookie year, to 1998, Coates never recorded less than 50 catches or 6 touchdown receptions. The five-time Pro-Bowler finished his career in 2000, winning a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens.
For his career, Coates caught 499 passes for 5,555 yards and 50 touchdowns.
Pre-1970: Raymond Chester-Morgan State
In the 1960s, there were few better small schools to find unheralded talent than the CIAA’s Morgan State. First there was running back LeRoy Kelly. Then came linebacker Willie Lanier. So by the time Raymond Chester finished up his career in Baltimore, he was no secret. The Oakland Raiders picked him in the first round of the NFL Draft in 1970 and he immediately paid dividends, catching 43 passes in his rookie season. Chester was a valuable member of Raider squads of the 1970s, winning two Super Bowls with the team. He finished his career with 364 receptions, 5,014 yards and 48 touchdowns.
Norfolk State won its first ever MEAC Football championship last year, after joining the conference back in 1997. Now, it finds itself in the unfamiliar position of being the favorite to wear the conference’s crown.
The MEAC released the results of its preseason poll of conference coaches and SIDs at the annual media day on Friday, with the Spartans receiving 11 first-place votes. South Carolina State was second, receiving four first-place votes. Also receiving one first-place vote was Hampton, who along with North Carolina A&T, is ineligible for the NCAA Bowl Subdivison Playoffs, should they win the regular season title.
Florida A&M, picked to finish fourth in the conference, placed five players on the preseason version of the All-Conference first team, as did Norfolk State. North Carolina A&T running back Mike Mayhew and Howard linebacker Keith Pough are the preseason selections for Offensive and Defensive Player of The Year awards.
Norfolk State will look to repeat as champions despite the loss quarterback Chris Walley and seven starters from last season’s squad that held opponents to just 17 points per game in route to a 9-3 (7-1 MEAC) record.
MEAC FOOTBALL PRESEAON POLL
(Head Coaches and Sports Information Directors)
1. Norfolk State
2. South Carolina State
4. Florida A&M
6. North Carolina A&T
7. Morgan State
9. North Carolina Central
10. Delaware State
11. Savannah State
QB -Greg McGhee, Howard, So.
RB – Mike Mayhew, North Carolina A&T, Sr.
RB – Isidore Jackson, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
WR – Xavier Boyce, Norfolk State, Sr.
WR – Tavis Tarpley, Delaware State, Sr.
TE – Joeseph Hawkins, Norfolk State, Sr.
C – Michael Kay, Norfolk State, Sr.
OL – Steven Robinson, Florida A&M, Sr.
OL – Blake Matthews, Norfolk State, Sr.
OL – Terrence Hackney, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
OL – Cory Gwinner, Howard, Sr.
DL – Tony Mashburn, North Carolina A&T, Sr.
DL – Padric Scott, Florida A&M, Sr.
DL – Richard, Ndubueze, Morgan State Sr.
DL – Mathhew Davis, Hampton, Jr.
LB – Keith Pough, Howard, Sr.
LB – Jarkevis Fields, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
LB – D’Vonte Grant, North Carolina A&T, So.
DB – John Ojo, Florida A&M, Sr.
DB – DeVontae Johnson, Florida A&M, So.
DB – Travis Crosby, North Carolina A&T, Jr.
DB – D.J. Howard, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
First-Team Special Teams
PK – Everett Goldberg, Norfolk State, Sr.
P – Brandon Holdren, Florida A&M, Sr.
RS – Geovonie Irvin, North Carolina Central, Sr.
QB – Damien Fleming, Florida A&M, So.
RB – Antwon Chisholm, Hampton, Jr.
RB – Travis Davidson, Morgan State, Sr.
WR – Eddie Poole, Bethune-Cookman, Sr.
WR – Justin Wilson, Delaware State, Sr.
TE – Kris Drummond, Savannah State, So.
C – Tristan Bellamy, South Carolina State, So.
C – Vincent Harper, Hampton, Jr.
OL – Sam Hammond, South Carolina State, Sr.
OL – Nathan Isles, North Carolina A&T, Jr.
OL – Cameron Williams, Norfolk State, Jr.
OL – Marquell Rozier, Bethune-Cookman, Jr.
DL – Xavier Proctor, North Carolina Central, Sr.
DL – Leon Smith, South Carolina State, Sr.
DL – Herold Love III, Bethune-Cookman, Sr.
DL – Brandon Young, North Carolina A&T, Sr.
LB – Delbert Tyler, Hampton, Jr.
LB – Joe Thomas, South Carolina State, Jr.
LB – Lyndell Gibson, Hampton, Sr.
DB – Justin Blake, Hampton, Sr.
DB – Kenneth Ridley, Morgan State, Jr.
DB – Darius Drummond, South Carolina State, Jr.
DB – DeCarlos Knight, Howard, Sr.
Second-Team Special Teams
PK – Taureab Durham, Hampton, Sr.
P – Jordan Stovall, Hampton, Jr.
RS – Darius Drummond, South Carolina State, Jr.