Inside Hotlanta and the SIAC
By Hal Lamar
Photos by Patsy Collier-Lamar
INSIDE plays catchup
Illness the last two months sidelined INSIDE which explains the absence of these humble words via this website. While on the mend, I thought about all the great sporting events, rumors, half-truths and whispers I missed. So this return feature is catch-up time Don’t get out of joint if you’ve read, heard or watched this already….
Grambling put another foot in Southern during last year’s Bayou classic. I won’t forget last year’s gridiron “do’ but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. First, the Superdome was freezing. Then, elevators and escalators to the field weren’t working which made access to the players and coaches difficult at best. Complaints about the frigid temps and elevator-escalator access were ignored (well, it didn’t get any better) and conditions forced me and Patsy to cut short our planned after-game frolicking and forced me to the emergency room of North Oaks Medical Center in Hammond Louisiana. The game itself was a showcase largely for Grambling running back Frank Warren. Watch for him in the NFL draft! (He was my candidate for the 100% Wrong Club’s coveted Jake Gaither trophy)….
Speaking of the latter, I missed out on the 77th annual Wronger bash for one of the rare times since I started covering the event in 1974. This year’s Gaither winner was Bethune-Cookman quarterback Matt Johnson. He was presented the HBCU Heisman–like trophy by club member, BC grad and current Arizona Cardinal Stevie Baggs…….
The Pioneer Bowl hardware has returned to the trophy case of the CIAA. The St Aug Falcons defeated what seemed to be a much stronger Fort Valley eleven, 20-9. Despite what was a good competitive contest, the conference still faces the challenge of improving attendance. The December mix in Columbus Georgia drew 3,745 fans which admittedly is better than the 1,849 fans which turned out last year in Columbia, South Carolina (the empty seats in Charlie Johnson Stadium also POed Columbia officialdom which sank some dollars into the game)…Speaking of bowls and games, SIAC commissioner Gregory Moore is keeping toes and fingers crossed for a great turnout this December at the conference’s first football championship game which will also be played in Columbus. I also want to remind the Commish of his promise to name the game’s championship trophy for Wallace Jackson, the SIAC’s first fulltime commissioner and the spearhead of the establishment of the Pioneer Bowl……
Will there be another Russell Athletic HBCU bowl in Atlanta? INSIDERS who worked the well-intended all star game are wondering. The inaugural event in Montgomery Alabama last year drew about 3000 ticket buyers.. I visited the game’s website but saw nothing about attendance, scores, etc…..One of the problems facing any game like this is scheduling. They are usually held in December and clash with Christmas spending and frigid temperatures…..
It doesn’t surprise me that Clark-AU head basketball coach Darryl ”Jake” Jacobs has said so-long to the Cardinal and Black for a spot with the Trojans of Virginia State University.. Notwithstanding his excellent coaching ability, Jacobs loves challenges and playing in the CIAA will give him that spot. At a news conference in Petersburg a fortnight ago announcing Jake’s hiring, the new head coach said he received numerous e-mails from hard core CAU sports fans asking what it would take to keep him in Atlanta. “I told them that I had accomplished what I could for CAU and it was time for me to move on. I had watched VSU’s program from afar and never understood why their cage team hasn’t done better than it has in the last dozen years or so.” He also made some big promises about returning the Trojans back into CIAA contention. Though I didn’t get to know Jacobs as well as I would have liked, I do know that if VSU is looking for a coach who is well organized, a disciplinarian and one who will drive players to be the best they can be, they have found him,…..’
As great a high school grid record as Ronnie Millen has achieved here at Atlanta’s Grady High School. I can’t under why some Division I or II college program hasn’t snatched him up…..And coach Johnnie Cole is looking for work again. He’s was dumped by Texas Southern University and officialdom in Houston made little effort to hide the fact that the SWAC and NCAA were getting ready to drop the infraction hammer on the school’s football program and pointing every available finger at Cole. Somehow, sadly, it seems that wherever the Cole brothers (L.C. & Johnnie) land, trouble lands right behind them.