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Teams with new coaches making the most noise; Stat stuffers setting the pace on offense and defense

by Lut Williams
Just past the midway point of the 2014 black college football season, here are some of the midseason awards.

MOST SURPRISING TEAM - Grambling State and new coach Broderick Fobbs. Its quite ironic that the legendary Grambling program under the direction of first-year head coach Broderick Fobbs is the unquestioned winner of this award. The Tigers are 4-3 overall, 4-0 in the SWAC, the only undefeated team in the league and winners of four straight after losing its first three. They have played two teams ranked No. 1 in the BCSP Top Ten, Bethune-Cookman (a 36-23 loss after leading in the fourth quarter) and Alcorn State (a 28-21 win last week). They are up to No. 3 in the latest BCSP Top Ten.

But there‘s a fitting story here.

Grambling entered the 2014 football season as the only SWAC West Division program not under NCAA sanctions for poor Academic Progress Rates (APR). The other teams in the division – Texas Southern, Southern, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Prairie View A&M – are all barred from NCAA postseason play and other team activities because of the APR issues.gsu media guide

Under ordinary circumstances, the G-Men would have been declared the division champs and earned a spot in the leagues championship game this December before the season started. But there‘s nothing ordinary about the SWAC.

The Ivy League and the SWAC are the only Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) conferences that don‘t participate in NCAA postseason play. So that NCAA sanction meant little. And whatever importance it had was virtually wiped out last basketball season when the SWAC decided to allow an APR-saddled Southern program to participate in the league‘s postseason tournament though, even if it won the tournament, it would not have been allowed to advance to the NCAA Big Dance.

Ditto for this year‘s football championship. Despite the sanctions, all four teams are eligible for the SWAC title. But that was hardly Grambling‘s main problem.
The legendary program had sunk to its lowest point in history with administrative and coaching differences that saw the G-Men go through three head coaches and forfeit a game because of a player revolt last season and win just two of its last 21 games includuing just one of 17 SWAC games over the past two seasons.

Everyone (including me) and particularly the SWAC coaches had the Tigers finishing at the bottom of the West Division standings, garnering less votes than any other league team. The
G-Men had no players (zero) on the first or second team preseason all-SWAC team.

In fact, if you look at the SWAC team stats now, the Tigers do not lead in any category and in most of them are in the bottom half. Ditto for individual stats. Not only are no GSU players among the leaders, they are practically absent. Check it out for yourself (

So how are they doing it?

The 40-year old Fobbs, a Grambling product, says he‘s following the lead of his mentor, legendary coach Eddie Robinson, who coached Fobbs and his father, Lee Fobbs, the former head coach at North Carolina A&T who now is the school‘s director of athletic operations.

“Everything that we do comes from Coach Robinson,“ said Fobbs. “Everything that comes out of my mouth or quotes deal with Coach Robinson and the way we go about doing things is the way he went about doing them. Yes, its a new age way of doing things and coaching the game but there‘s some basic things that he stood for that I won‘t get away from.“
Well, Fobbs‘s interviews are peppered with quips like ‘playing with juice‘, or ‘scratch where it itches‘ that may have originated with Robinson. Whatever it is, it‘s working so far.

OTHER SURPRISING TEAMS (What do the top three below and Fobbs have in common?)mack-hull
– North Carolina Central - (3-3, 2-0 MEAC) Under new head coach Jerry Mack - Eagles are tied for the lead in MEAC.
– Morgan State - (3-3, 2-1 MEAC) Under new head coach Lee Hull - The Bears have lost three games by a total of seven points.
– Virginia Union - (5-1, 3-0 CIAA N) Under new head coach Mark James - The Panthers sit atop the CIAA North.
– Texas Southern - (5-1, 3-1 SWAC W) Under Darrell Asberrry - Tigers were the last team in the SWAC to lose.

Coming off a second-place Ohio Valley Conference finish and first FCS playoff berth since 1999, the Tigers under Rod Reed, who finished on top of the final Black College Sports Page ranking last year, were expected to challenge for the conference title and another postseason spot.
Instead, the Tigers are 4-3 overall, tied for fifth in the OVC at just 1-2 and fell out of the FCS Top 25 this week for the first time this season. They have lost back-to-back seven-point OVC games to Southeast Missouri (28-21) and Jacksonville State (27-20) after losing to Alabama State (27-21) early in the season. And they still have games left with Eastern Illinois and Eastern Kentucky, teams ahead of them in the standings, and with Murray State, one of two teams tied with them at 1-2.

– J. C. Smith - (1-5, 0-3 CIAA S) Under Steven Aycock - The Golden Bulls have scored four         TDs in six games and only 39 total points (6.5 ppg.). They are giving up 33.2 ppg.
– Howard (1-6, 0-4 MEAC) Under Gary Harrell - With the return of Harrell to the sidelines         and with senior QB Greg McGhee, the MEAC offensive player of the year last season, at         the controls, the Bison were supposed to challenge for MEAC honors. So far, they have yet to         win a conference game.

BEST PLAYER - Jalen Hendricks, Jr., WR, Livingstone
The 6-2, 205 (Nashville, NC) wide receiver for Livingstone leads black colleges in every receiving category and is among the top six in the nation (Div. II) in receptions per game (6th, 8.3), receiving yards per game (4th, 131.8 ypg.) receiving yards (4th, 791 yds.) and receiving TDs (2nd, 10). Hendricks was a 3-sport athlete at Nash Central HS, where he played in the same conference as Todd Gurley and would have been the offensive player of the year there if not for the now all-American RB from Georgia.

Herb Walker, Jr., RB, Morgan State - The top black college rusher is third in the nation (FCS) in rushing yards per game (152.5 ypg.), 4th in rushing yards (915 yards), tied for 13th in rushing TDs (8) and 7th in rushing yards per carry (7.3 ypc.). After rushing for 9 yards in the Bears opening game, Walker has five straight games of 100+ rushing yards including two over 200 yards (271, 180, 141, 111 and 203). Recently joined Cyrus on Walter Payton Award (Best FCS Offensive Player) Watch List.msu beastin
Malcolm Cyrus, Sr., RB, Alabama State - Cyrus is just behind Walker in rushing yards (912), rushing yards per carry (17th, 6.29) and rushing yards per game (130.3 ypg.).
Christopher Robinson, Sr., DE, Morgan State - Robinson leads all black college performers and the FCS in sacks with 11 total in six games.
Tarik Cohen, So., N. C. A&T - Cohen is ninth in rushing yards (767), tied with Walker with 8 rushing TDs but is ahead of him averaging 7.3 yards per carry (5th). His 127.8 rushing yards per game average is 10th nationally in the FCS.

Also keep your eye on the situation at Florida A&M where second-year head coach Earl “The Hitman“ Holmes is reportedly on the hotseat.

The once-mighty Rattlers are winless at 0-5 headed into Saturday‘s home date against also-winless Savannah State (0-5). It‘s the first time a Rattler team and head coach have begun the season 0-5 in school history. And, under Holmes, the Rattlers have lost seven straight home games.
Ratter fans started chirping on social media about the need for a coaching change after a 48-3 drubbing at the hands of Coastal Carolina on Sept. 20. And that chatter grew louder with a 27-7 loss to Tennessee State a week later and even louder after last week‘s 24-9 loss to Morgan State, its first in conference play.
Losing to Savannah State, the conference doormat at 1-23 since becoming a regular MEAC member in 2011, would likely make the noise unbearable.


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