Scouting The SIAC: What to watch for in 2016

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Updated: August 29, 2016
By Tony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus
NEW HAVEN (BASN) — Over the years, the road to the SIAC football championship has usually led through either Albany State or Tuskegee. However, with the emergence of the Golden Bears of Miles College, things have changed.
As we continue our preview of the 2016 HBCU football season, today we peek at the upcoming race in the SIAC.
Entering his sixth season, Reginald Ruffin’s Golden Bears have won a pair of SIAC titles while also making their first-ever appearance in the Division II playoffs.
Miles (7-5, 5-0 SIAC) has been tabbed to repeat as West Division champions, just ahead of Tuskegee (10-3, 4-1). The Golden Bears received eight first-place votes while the Golden Tigers received seven.
Tuskegee did get the league’s lone bid to the Division II playoffs. They won a pair of hard-fought road games before falling in the quarterfinals.
Albany State (6-4, 4-0) was tabbed to win the SIAC’s Eastern Division.
RESPECTING THE STRIPES
Despite not being tabbed by the league coaches to win the Western Division, Willie Slater’s bunch is getting plenty of national recognition in several preseason Division II polls. The Sporting News had them 13th in their preseason poll, while Lindy’s Magazine tabbed TU for 10th. Also, the Tigers were ranked 17th in the American Football Coaches Association Top 25 and 19th in D2 Football’s first poll of the year.
HITTING THE GROUND RUNNING
The early part of the SIAC schedule will have a large say as to who’ll be playing for the league title in November. Both Albany State and Tuskegee will open the season on the road (Albany visits Valdosta State, Tuskegee visits Clark Atlanta) before meeting each other in the Whitewater Classic in Week Two. Miles will open the season September 4th against Fort Valley State in the Labor Day Classic. Two weeks later, they’ll travel to Atlanta to meet Morehouse College.
MORE TIGER TALK
Speaking of the Maroon Tigers, they’ve been tabbed to finish second in the East behind Albany State. Rich Freeman’s crew have had two straight winning seasons for the first time since 2007-2009. All-SIAC selections DL Voris Bryant and DB Emmanuel Parks are two major returnees from last year’s top-ranked defense. They’ll also be tested following their meeting with Miles College in late September. After hosting Clark Atlanta on October 1st, the Maroon Tigers will meet Tuskegee one week later in the Morehouse-Tuskegee Classic on the 8th and host Albany State on the 15th.
REALITY CHECK
The SIAC was dealt a severe blow in December when Stillman College dropped 10 sports including football due to financial reasons. The Tigers maintained men’s and women’s basketball, but will be playing in the Gulf South Athletic Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) beginning this upcoming school season. Stillman will use the four-year grace allowed by the NAIA to reach the mandatory six-sport minimum. It’s not known if the Tigers will include football as one of those sports slated to be added.
EXPANDED EXPOSURE
With nearly 50 HBCU games being televised either on television or the Internet this season, the SIAC will be a major part of the coverage. Three networks will carry six games this season including four on the ASPiRE Network. The American Sports Network will broadcast the season opening game between Tuskegee and Clark Atlanta on September 3rd. One day later, ASPiRE will showcase the Labor Day Classic between Miles College and Fort Valley State. Later in the year, ASPiRE will broadcast Tuskegee vs. Morehouse on October 8th, Albany State vs. Fort Valley State on November 5th, and the SIAC Championship Game on November 12th. Finally, the Turkey Day Classic between Alabama State and Miles College will be shown on ESPN3 on Thanksgiving Day.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at anthonymcclean1962@gmail.com.

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