Scouting The CIAA: What to watch for in 2016

Updated: September 1, 2016

By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus


NEW HAVEN (BASN) — With the college football season set to begin in earnest this weekend, we conclude our HBCU previews with a peek at the CIAA.
For the sixth consecutive year, the Rams of Winston-Salem State were selected to finish as the top team in the CIAA followed by the Bowie State Bulldogs, the Panthers of Virginia Union, the Virginia State Trojans, and the Broncos of Fayetteville State.
The Bulldogs were tabbed to repeat as Northern Division champs followed by Virginia Union and Virginia State. Fayetteville State has been tabbed to finish in second in the East, just behind WSSU.
To gain their third crown in the last six years, the Rams overcame plenty of adversity in 2015. Between injuries and a 1-4 start, somewhere along the way Kienus Boulware’s squad would slowly find their way. They would win five of their last six games, the only setback being an overtime loss to Shaw. In the title game, they rallied from a 14-point deficit and outlasted Bowie State on a Will Johnson field goal with two seconds remaining. Their 6-5 record wasn’t good enough to make the postseason, but it serves as a springboard for 2016.
With 16 starters returning from last year’s Northern Division title squad, there are some who think Damon Wilson’s Bulldogs have a good opportunity to unseat Winston-Salem State as CIAA champions. Last year’s appearance in the league’s championship game and subsequent Division II playoff berth (9-3, 7-0 CIAA) capped off the best season at BSU since 1975. The month of October will be key as they host rivals Fayetteville State (10/1) and Virginia State (10/15). They’ll also travel to Richmond on the 22nd to meet Virginia Union, a contest scheduled to be shown on ESPN3.
While the CIAA is scheduled to have at least four games on national television this season, they’ve also made headway on ensuring that they gain even more exposure in the future. This past week, the league announced that Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment will serve as the Conference’s media and sponsorship rights partner in a multi-year agreement, effective July 1, 2017. The five-year partnership with VWSE will include digital and live broadcast productions of various Conference matchups including football and basketball regular season and championship games.
For Livingstone College and Shaw University, the 2016 season offers contrasting differences. For the Blue Bears (5-4), they’re coming off their first winning season in more than 17 years. As for the other Bears, last year’s 1-9 mark was the program’s worst since 1978. However, there’s room for optimism heading into both camps. LC head coach Daryl Williams has slowly seen his squad progress since taking over in 2012. Former N.C. Central assistant Adrian Jones has been brought in to change the fortunes at Shaw. Jones was a standout high school coach just up the road from SU and has already begun recruiting quality players for the 2016 campaign and beyond. Stay tuned.
The league also welcomes five new head coaches for the 2016 season. Tim Chavous takes over the reins at St. Augustine’s (1-9) for Michael Moran, Richard Hayes, Jr. will be the new head man at Fayetteville State (4-6) replacing interim Donald Pittman, Shaw (1-9) hired the aforementioned Adrian Jones for Robert Massey, Virginia State (6-4) hired Reggie Barlow for interim Justin Harper, and Earnest Wilson III is the new boss at Elizabeth City State (4-5) replacing Waverly Tillar.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at

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