HBCU Game Time


The HBCU sports season is officially on, and as host of the national sports talk radio show, From the Press Box to Press Row, I cover all the action on the games that showcase our Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCU GameTime will provide a weekly rundown on what’s happening on the field, and occasionally other sports-related topics. Let’s play!

Donal Ware, HBCU GameTime

Donal Ware, HBCU GameTime

It was 10 years ago.

That’s how many years it has been since Florida A&M decided to take its football program to the NCAA Division I-A level (now known as Football Bowl Subdivision).  It ultimately didn’t work out for the Rattler program due to financial hardships.  To add insult to injury shortly thereafter, almost 200 NCAA violations were found, mostly due to paperwork errors.

The dream of an HBCU going to I-A was over.

But FAMU has had plenty of firsts.  The Rattlers won the very first NCAA Division I-AA championship in 1978.  They were one of, if not the first HBCU, to defeat an I-A school when they defeated Miami 16-13 at home in 1979.

Prior to last Saturday and including FAMU, only three HBCUs have ever defeated a I-A/FBS school; Delaware State defeated Akron in its first year in I-AA in 1987 and Tennessee State defeated Louisville twice, in 1981 and 1984.  As of last Saturday, make it four.

Bethune-Cookman defeated Florida International on Saturday 34-13 at FIU Stadium in Miami.  It was the first time in its history that the Wildcats defeated a I-A/FBS program.  Not only did B-CU win the game, but they also receive a $400,000 guarantee.  B-CU will also get another $400,000 when the teams meet next season.

Wildcats head coach Brian Jenkins,  normally more reserved in his praise and who typically puts things in perspective, didn’t hold back his emotions.

“I was just ecstatic about the way the players played, gracious for the type of coaching staff God has surround me with,” said Jenkins who was an assistant coach at FBS programs Rutgers and Louisiana-Lafayette before coming to Bethune-Cookman in 2010.  “Just being able to accomplish something that people thought we couldn’t accomplish, it was tremendous.”

In the bigger scheme of FCS football, the Wildcats can say they are one of 12 FCS teams to defeat an FBS school so far this season and the only one to do so this past week.

The Wildcats face Florida State in Tallahassee on Saturday.

Also of note this past Saturday, North Carolina Central defeated UNC Charlotte 40-13.  It’s a significant win for NCCU for a number of reasons.  UNC Charlotte is poised to join Conference USA in 2015 and this year began its inaugural season by defeating Campbell and Chowan by a combined score of 99-14.

NCCU began the season by losing to Duke 45-0 and just squeaking by Saint Augustine’s 16-13 in overtime.

North Carolina A&T did something tremendous and started a trend by defeating perennial Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) power Appalachian State last weekBethune-Cookman, and to a lesser degree but still of significance NCCU, have followed suit.

Two weeks ago HBCU FCS schools were 0-12 against non-HBCU, 1-11 last week, and 3-6 this past week.

Grambling Fires Doug Williams???

What is going on at Grambling? GSU fired legend Doug Williams last week, two games into the season. While the Tigers were 1-10 last year, in 2012, they went 8-4 and won the SWAC championship in Williams’s first year and second stint as head coach.

Shouldn’t the man who led GSU to four SWAC titles as a coach, was a legend as a player, and became the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl be given some slack?

What is Grambling trying to accomplish? It ran off current A&T head coach Rod Broadway who had a 35-14 record and led the Tigers to the SWAC championship in 2008. Now they fire a legend?

Did it have something to do with Williams suing the school back in 2011 over a contract dispute back? He ultimately signed a three year deal worth $250,000 per year. Was he too loyal to his son DJ who he was adamant would be the starter and he continually defended despite his numbers and record?  Was it as simple as the Tigers starting 0-2 and GSU deciding to move in a different direction?

Whatever the case, Williams deserved better.

You can follow Donal Ware on Twitter @dware1 and @boxtorow.