BASN Black College Focus: Football Roundup

By Tony McClean
Updated: November 23, 2004

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — For the second straight week, Albany State and Hampton University share the top spot in SBN’s Top 10 Black College Football Poll. Both are also in action in the NCAA Playoffs this Saturday.

The Golden Rams (11-0) extended their 19-game winning streak, the longest current streak in Division II, with a 42-24 win over Arkansas Tech in a Southeast Regional semifinal contest at Albany Memorial Coliseum last Saturday. ASU will face Valdosta State on this Saturday for the Southeast Region championship in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs. The two regional finalists met September 4 at the Coliseum, and Albany State ended 10 years of frustration against their nearby rival with a thrilling 24-22 victory, the first for the Rams over Valdosta State.

The winner of Saturday’s game will advance to the semifinals on Dec. 4. The Division II championship game will be Dec. 11 in Florence, Ala., at Braly Memorial Stadium at the University of North Alabama.

ASU’s win over Tech already has the team in uncharted territory. No other historically black college or university has ever advanced as far in the Division II playoff chase.

Hampton (10-1) returns to the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs for the first time since 1998 and the Pirates won’t have to travel far. They’ll travel to Zable Stadium Saturday to take on William & Mary, the co-champions of the Atlantic 10, in a first round contest. This will be the first time since October of 1998 that these two in-state schools will meet, and just the third time overall. The Tribe (9-2) leads the overall series, 2-0. This is, for all accounts, one of the first times in I-AA playoff history that teams so close in proximity will face each other for the first round.

William & Mary and Hampton are separated by less than 20 miles heading west on Virginia’s I-64 towards Richmond. HU sits just off I-64 in Hampton beside the Chesapeake Bay, while William & Mary resides in colonial Williamsburg.

OTHER GAMES (SBN rankings are in parentheses) THURSDAY (Turkey Day Classic at Montgomery, Ala.) (4) Alabama State (8-1) vs. (6) Tuskegee (9-1) Both teams have post season games in their future. The Golden Tigers will play in the Pioneer Bowl on December 4th and the Hornets will be in the SWAC Championship game on December 11th. But this series played since 1901 will mean as much to the fans of central Alabama as any championship contest. In the last five years, Tuskegee holds a 4-1 edge.

SATURDAY (Bayou Classic at SuperDome, New Orleans) (3) Southern (8-2, 6-0 SWAC) vs Grambling (5-5, 2-4) This classic is for state “bragging rights” and all that goes with it. In the past several years, whichever team that won this game was the SWAC West division winner. This year, only Southern can earn a trip to the SWAC Championship game with a win, Grambling State will be in a spoiler’s role this year.

COACHING CAROUSEL Already, the HBCU coaching fraternity has taken a hit with just a handful of regular season games left. Last week, head coach Tim Harkness and key members of his staff were handed their walking papers at Johnson C. Smith. The Golden Bulls went 0-10 this season, their first winless season since 1994. JCSU has gone 10-50 during the last six seasons under Harkness.

Earlier this week, head coach James Reese and five of his assistants were dismissed at Tennessee State. The ax came following the Tigers’ season-ending 30-13 loss to Murray State. Reese had spent five years at TSU and completed his first head coaching job with a 24-33 career record, including a 4-7 mark this season.