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Wins for black college football teams versus teams in their division have been few and far between.  Early results give no indication that postseason runs will be long or deep.

by Lut Williams

Success taking on out-of-conference foes has been a fleeting objective for black college football (and basketball) teams.

Through two weeks of the 2014 football season, only Kentucky State (over Kentucky Wesleyan), Livingstone (over Millersville) and Winston-Salem State (over UNC-Pembroke) have been able to secure out-of-conference wins over non-HBCU teams on the NCAA Div. II level.

Bethune-Cookman, ranked 13th in the latest Sports Network FCS poll, has the lone win over an FBS team (Florida International). The rest of the teams in the FCS (SWAC and MEAC) and Div. II conferences (SIAC and CIAA) are wearing 0-fers. Most games have been blowouts or near blowouts.

But there have been some encouraging signs.

At least, North Carolina A&T’s one-point loss (31-30) to FCS No. 5 Coastal Carolina shows that head coach Rod Broadway has the Aggies pointed in the right direction.

“We’re close, but we haven’t been able to get over the hump,“ said Broadway in terms of winning close games against quality opponents. “So, we’ll have to go back to work and really figure out how to beat the outstanding teams that we play.“ The Aggies have an FCS game Saturday at new Colonial Athletic Assocation (CAA) member Elon (0-1).

Coastal, who is 18-1 vs. MEAC competition since starting its football program in 2005, hosts South Carolina State Saturday, a team rated above the Aggies in most MEAC preseason prognostications. Buddy Pough’s SCSU Bulldogs are 0-3 vs. the CCU Chanticleeers but have always played them tough, including a 27-20 decision last year that the ‘Dawgs certainly could have won. Pough is 10-3 vs. Big South teams with all three losses coming to CCU.

“I think it’s big for us to go out and play a lot better this week,” Pough told the Orangeburg Times & Democrat of his team, coming off a 73-7 shellacking at the hands of Clemson, the worst loss in the Pough era.
“We’ve got to go out and show that we belong with the top (FCS) teams in the country. Not only do we need to win, but we need to go out and show that we belong and that will be part of our mission.” Pough and SC State have not beaten a ranked team since a 1997 victory over Furman.

Keep an eye on the SC State/Coastal Carolina score.

Morgan State, under new head man Lee Hull, has two down-to-the wire, three-point losses, 31-28 to FBS MAC member Eastern Michigan and 29-26 to Holy Cross of the FCS Patriot League. Hull’s troops had a shot for a tie at the buzzer vs. EMU and lost on a last second touchdown to Holy Cross.hull-lwblog

Though close only counts in horseshoes, the Bears under Hull appear to be different from the teams that have perennially been underachievers.

“For 59 minutes and 59 seconds we played pretty good football,” Hull said of last weeks loss to Holy Cross. “That was kind of a heartbreaker for us.

“We’re close, we’re in the games. I’m proud of their effort and they’ve been pretty resilient. You have to be in those types of games to know how to win. The more you’re in those types of games, the more you learn what to do.”

The Bears (0-2) are at home this week to face Bowie State (0-1) of the Div. II CIAA. Morgan State was a dominant force in its days in the CIAA winning 18 conference championships.

Other than the SC State/Coastal Carolina game, these FCS games against ranked teams this week will again show how competitive or uncompetitive black college teams are on the national level:
- Prairie View A&M plays at FCS No. 6 McNeese State
- Norfolk State is at FCS No. 16 William & Mary
- Hampton is on the road at FCS No. 18 Richmond, and
- Delaware State hosts FCS No. 26 Towson

Buddy PoughSouth Carolina State (1-1) got 73 votes while A&T (1-1) got 33 votes in the Sports Network poll this week. Despite an 0-2 start, Florida A&M received 2 votes.

Alabama State (1-1), who defeated FCS No. 22 Tennessee State last week (27-21), got 36 votes. Alabama State lost its opener to FCS No. 15 Sam Houston State, 51-20 before the win over TSU. Southern (14 votexs, 1-1), Alcorn State (12, 1-1) and Texas Southern (2, 2-0) were the others garnering votes.

Tennessee State faces Jackson State (2-0) in the 38th annual Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis in another game to watch.

After its win over UNC-P, Winston-Salem State is ranked 13th in the Div. II poll and 12th in the AFCA Div. II Coaches Poll. The Rams (1-0) travel to Powder Springs, Ga. Saturday to face Valdosta State (1-0), the team that beat the Rams in the 2012 Div. II championship game, 35-7 and humbled Albany State Saturday, 38-10.

That title game, with now Hampton head coach Connell Maynor at the helm of the Rams, was not as much of a blowout as the score indicated with the Rams poised to get back in the game until a goal-line fumble all but ended it. Six turnovers doomed the Rams in that game. I’m sure the Rams have been pointing to this one. The game will certainly be an indication of WSSU’s national aspirations as it will be for Valdosta State, not currently ranked in the d2football poll but 23rd in the coaches poll.

Elsewhere Saturday, defending CIAA North Division champion Virginia State (0-1) is at home to take on Lenoir-Rhyne (1-0), ranked sixth in the coaches poll and ninth in the d2football poll. VSU and head coach Latrell Scott are coming off a 33-24 loss to California (Pa.). Sophomore quarterback Tarion Ayres threw for 325 yards (22-44) and two touchdowns but also threw two picks in the loss.

Shaw (0-1) plays at West Alabama, a team ranked 25th in the coaches poll. Shaw is coming off a 30-6 loss to Miles while West Alabama beat Stillman, 44-20.

Anyone who saw Earl “The Pearl” Monroe play basketball at Winston-Salem State will also remember William “Bill” English, who passed this week at 68.Bob Moorman

English, as a burly 6-6 forward, was hard to miss and was an integral part of the talented 1967 NCAA Small College Division championship basketball team coached by the legendary Clarence “Big House” Gaines and led by Monroe. The Rams were the first black college team to win an NCAA title. (Head coach John McClendon and Tennessee State had won three straight NAIA national titles (1957-59) when black colleges all played in the NAIA).

What is most remembered about the Rams’ national title is that Monroe averaged 41.5 points per game en route to being named College Division Player of the Year. But English was part of a dominant front line on that team the included 6-9 James Reid, who went on to make the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers roster.

A year later in his senior year, observers were shocked when English scored a record 77 points vs. Fayetteville State during a season in which he averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds. Known for a sweeping hook and his powerful moves across the lane, Engliah was invited later that year to try out for the Olympic team and was eventually drafted by the Detroit Pistons. He returned to Winston-Salem and spent many years as a part-time assistant at WSSU and in the city’s recreation department.

Not many will forget William English.

Nor will many forget former CIAA Commissioner Bob Moorman, who also passed this week.
Moorman, a former student/athlete at Hampton in the 1940s, was the CIAA’s first full-time commissioner and took over and deftly led the conference from 1976 to 1989 in the aftermath of the defection of six longtime member schools who left to form the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference in 1970.

The CIAA survived and prospered under Moorman’s leadership, changing the format of its crown jewel – the CIAA Basketball Tournament – and making changes also to its football alignment, changes that brought greater attention and visibility to both.



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