By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Sunday’s HBCU Football Preview
NEW HAVEN, Ct. – The first weekend of Black College football will be extended to Sunday with the renewal of classic that has rapidly become a season-opening HBCU ritual.
Since its beginning in 2005, the MEAC/SWAC Challenge has pitted a MEAC team against a SWAC member at a neutral site within the footprint of one of the conferences.
This year, the event moves to Orlando and will showcase a match-up between the MEAC’s Hampton University and the SWAC’s Jackson State University this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2, from the Florida Citrus Bowl.
The first three years, the game was played at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. In fact on Friday, it was announced that the MEAC/SWAC Challenge will be remaining in Orlando through 2010.
Jackson State earned its 16th SWAC championship last season with a 42-31 win over the Grambling State. The title game, televised on ESPN Classic, was the second most attended game under the SWAC’s current championship game format. It was JSU head coach Rick Comegy’s first SWAC title.
After three consecutive MEAC championships, Hampton, making its second appearance in the MEAC-SWAC Challenge, went 6-5 in 2007. The Pirates are under the reign of first-year head coach Jerry Holmes, who began his coaching career as the linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator at Hampton from 1992 to 1994.
During those three years, Hampton posted a 31-4-1 record, winning three consecutive CIAA championships, making two trips to the NCAA playoffs and capturing the 1994 Black College National Championship. Hampton and Jackson State have met twice before, with Hampton having won both games in 2004 and 2005.
The inaugural MEAC/SWAC Challenge showcased South Carolina State vs. Alabama State, with the Bulldogs prevailing, 27-14. In 2006, the contest went into overtime with Hampton defeating Grambling State, 27-26. Last year, the SWAC earned its first Challenge trophy as Southern defeated Florida A&M, 33-27.
FAYETTEVILLE STATE at N.C. CENTRAL
The Broncos suffered though a difficult 4-6 season in 2007 with a young and inexperienced lineup. However, the Broncos believe their 4-1 record in its last five games in ’07 is more indicative of things to come. QB Bryan Hardy returns as the starter after having a full season under his belt. Additionally, a veteran offensive line and experienced corps of receivers return to bolster the offense. After being injured in the first game of 2007, WR/TE Daryl Barnett red shirted and should be Hardy’s top target. Coach Kenny Phillips was also able to recruit offensive linemen to provide depth at those much needed positions. Defensively, LB Terrel Allen and DB Jeff Gowdy will lead the way for FSU. The Eagles return QB Stadford Brown (2006 CIAA Offensive Player of the Year) and RB Jeff Tolliver. The Broncos will be looking to knock off their in-state rival Eagles.
MILES vs. STILLMAN at BIRMINGHAM
Billy Joe, the winningest coach active coach in black college football (237-108-4) and second all-time to Grambling State’s Eddie Robinson, begins his tenure with the Golden Bears with a SIAC battle at Legion Field against Stillman. Miles, who was 35-41 in the last seven years under Wade Streeter, hasn’t won an SIAC title in 30 years. Golden Bear fans are hoping that Joe’s resurrection skills (previously done at Cheyney, Central State, and Florida A&M) can end that drought soon. Miles has a lot of new faces on the offensive side of the ball, however they return just two starters from last year. Stillman is coming off a good year at 7-4.
However this year may be a tough challenge as the offense will try to perform without their outstanding QB Charles McCollum who graduated. The good thing is they return 15 starters (seven offense, eight defense) from last year. Standouts include Quinn Porter at the RB position. Last season he rushed for 599 yds and 5 TDs. But the key to SC’s success are several NFL candidates on their defense including BTRC/BASN All-America selection DB Dre’Mail Harden.
CENTRAL STATE at DAYTON
An era that was 33 years in the making begins Sunday when the Flyers take on CSU in the “Dayton Classic IV” at Welcome Stadium. This is the fifth meeting between Dayton and Central State. CSU won the first contest (28-25) in 1974, with UD wins coming in 1977 (27-14), 1978 (28-7) and last year (40-0). Every game in the series has been played at Welcome Stadium.