Saturday, October 19, 2013

Here Is a Look at EVERY HBCU Football Game to Be Played Today


Now for those who are playing football today...

-  Bowie State will try to avoid their fourth straight loss in a tough place - homecoming at Virginia State, the CIAA's second-best team
- Johnson C. Smith will try to bounce back from last week's loss to Winston-Salem State in their homecoming game against a tough and smarting Fayetteville State squad
- Two one-win teams, Lincoln (Pa) and Elizabeth City State, hook up in the Vikings' homecoming game
- The nation's top-ranked Division II HBCU squad, Winston-Salem State, tries for their sixth win in a row at St. Augustine's, who is looking to get over .500
- In a battle for the second-place spot in the Northern Division, Virginia Union hosts homecoming opponent Chowan in a battle of teams with 2-1 conference records
- Shaw looks to get a second-straight win during their homecoming game against Livingstone, who is looking to avoid their second straight loss.

- Mississippi Valley State looks to bounce back from a tough loss at the SWAC's best team, Jackson State, by visiting Prairie View, a strong team that lost another overtime thriller last week
- Texas Southern tries to get their second-straight win in their homecoming game against a strong Alcorn State squad
- Southern tries to climb over the .500 mark and win their second game in a row at Arkansas-Pine Bluff who is trying to get their first win of the season on their homecoming day

- Two teams who've fallen on hard times, Morehouse and Albany State, battle during ASU's homecoming game. There are three wins between the two teams in 2013.  Morehouse has two of them.
- Clark Atlanta, thought to be the SIAC's doormat, has won two straight games and sport the conference's top rushing offense when they take on Benedict.  Benedict tries to climb back to .500 on this, their homecoming day
- In a big Western Division game, 2-1 Kentucky State visits 2-0 Miles on homecoming day at Miles. The game will be televised live by Bounce TV
- Stillman, who has the SIAC's top offense and top defense, visit the nation's second-best HBCU Division II team, Tuskegee, who is fresh off a 44-point win last week
- Lane tries to extend their winning streak to three games on a homecoming Saturday where they host Central State, who surprised Albany State last week for their first win of the season

- After staring the season off with three straight wins, North Carolina A&T tries to avoid their third straight loss when they host Delaware State, who is coming off a big homecoming win last week
- Coming off a big first win of the season last week, Hampton visits Norfolk State in the Battle of the Bay.  Norfolk State is trying to get their win of the season after a loss last week
- North Carolina Central looks to celebrate homecoming by getting over the .500 mark against Morgan State, a team looking for their second-straight win after a big homecoming victory last week
- Howard tries to avoid their fifth straight loss at Florida A&M, a team looking to salvage a disappointing season season with potentially back-to-back wins as they celebrate homecoming
- Savannah State, in the midst of a four-game losing streak, faces the daunting task of taking on the nation's second-ranked FCS HBCU team, Bethune-Cookman, a team who has only lost to Division I-FBS Florida State

- Tennessee State, the nation's top-ranked FCS HBCU team, takes the nation's top-ranked FCS defense to West Tennessee to take on a solid, 4-2 UT-Martin team that likes to run the football
- Lincoln (Mo.) tries to avoid their fourth-consecutive loss when they visit Nebraska-Kearney in a battle of 1-5 teams.  Lincoln defeated Nebraska-Kearney last year, their last road win.
- Langston will honor the 40th anniversary of the school's last championship football team - a team that featured former Dallas Cowboy Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson - when they host Texas College on homecoming Saturday

Friday, October 18, 2013

What's Happening at Grambling? Tumultous Week Leaves J-State With No Homecoming Game and Plenty of Questions at Grambling


Safety Naquan Smith speaks during a "State of Emergency" rally on the Grambling campus Thursday.  Pic by The Associated Press

Buses that were supposed to take Grambling players to Jackson State for their game Saturday sat empty before leaving as players refused to show up.  Picture by Sean Isabella/News-Star

After one of the most bizarre weeks in not only HBCU football history, but college football history, Jackson State University's homecoming weekend will be highlighted only by a glorified scrimmage.

But it's hardly Jackson State's fault.

Their scheduled opponent, Grambling State, isn't coming to town.  In fact, the storied football program is in shambles right now as a player revolt against administrators this past week, ending with the players' refusal to play or practice, has forced the cancellation of the game.

Players have united in their frustration with having to bus from Grambling, La., to games in Kansas City, Mo., a nine-hour ride covering nearly 600 miles one way, and Indianapolis, Ind., another 12 hour ride of nearly 760 miles one way ( "It does something to your body, being on the bus that long," safety Naquan Smith told Sports Illustrated. "We were kinda upset [the] other team got a chance to fly there. It wasn't fair.."); not getting all the meals they were supposed to have gotten on trips; poor athletic facilities and what they see as Grambling administrators lack of support for the football program.

The capper this week was the firing of head coach Doug Williams, the Grambling and Super Bowl legend who led the Tigers to a Southwestern Athletic Conference title two years ago, but a 1-10 record last year and an 0-2 record this year with two blowout losses.

But school president Frank Pogue said during a Friday news conference that the firing of Williams was one he had pondered for awhile.

"It was a difficult decision that clearly was not made overnight or over a week but frankly over an extended period time," he said.

But reports cite a rift between the two men.  According to Sports Illustrated, Williams feuded with Pogue and athletic director Aaron James over everything from signs for coaches in a parking lot to Williams' pay and bonuses.  Williams sued Grambling and the University of Louisiana system after winning the SWAC title in 2011. He and his coaches weren't paid bonuses due to them in their contract.  His suit against the school said Grambling said they would only pay if Williams signed a contract that reduced his pay and dropped future bonuses.  The suit was settled when Williams signed a three-year contract.

But apparently, that destroyed any long-term good relationship between Williams and his president and athletic director. According to Sports Illustrated, Williams found money to have a floor replaced in the team's weight room, but Pogue and James didn't think Williams followed protocol in getting the money secured. Not long afterwards, Williams was fired and running backs coach George Ragsdale was named interim coach, though players preferred defensive coordinator Dennis "Dirt" Winston, a gritty former Pittsburgh Steeler.

The floor, badly needing repairs, still wasn't fixed.

Money has been a recurring theme in this situation.  In a time when nearly every higher education institution has had to deal with falling enrollments, fewer state and federal appropriations and shrinking budgets, HBCU's -- long underfunded -- have felt the brunt moreso than most other institutions.

Grambling is an prime example.

The school's overall budget this year is $13.8 million, down more than $18 million over the past five years, according to Sports Illustrated.   Football and other athletic programs have been directly affected during a time with the University has had to layoff employees and furlough others.

It's led to one of the other players' complaints, poor facilities, such as reported mold and mildew in their weight room. 

"We felt like we've been mistreated," said Smith in a USA Today story Thursday after he addressed a student rally. "The administration is finally addressing some of the facilities issues, but we felt like it should have been done a long time ago."

As the losses continued, player frustration mounted too.  Tuesday they met with Pogue, James and Ragsdale, though no assistant coaches were invited to the meeting.  The meeting turned sour after the players voiced their displeasure.  Then they walked out.

Not only did they walk out, they didnt show up for practice the next day or the day after.

Ragsdale, who reportedly was having problems with his assistant coaches as well as players, was relieved of his coaching duties and reassigned to an undetermined position.  Winston was named interim coach.

But by then it was too late.

Players' confidence in Pogue was zero at that point.

"We felt there is a lack of leadership with the administration," Smith told USA Today. "We had a personal issue with (Ragsdale) and demanded for him to go. We want (Pogue) to go."

Players were supposed to be at a team walk-through before heading to Jackson, Miss., Friday.  No players showed.  Players were to board buses to take them to Jackson, Miss., for Saturday's Jackson State game at 2:30 p.m. Friday. Only a few showed.

A meeting was held with players and administrators who were trying to broker some sort of agreement.  Buses rescheduled to take players to Jackson State at 4:30 p.m. sat idle and then left empty at 5 p.m.

By then, talks had broken down and the homecoming game at Jackson State, which would have attracted nearly 30,000 people and likely millions of dollars in revenue, was cancelled.

"It's very disappointing," SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp told The Associated Press. "But without knowing all the facts it's hard for me to make a judgment."

So instead of a huge homecoming football game Saturday, Jackson State will have a football scrimmage and their band will perform and extended show.  Fans will get refunds on their tickets too.

"It's not ideal," Jackson State spokeswoman Jean Cook told ESPN. "But we're trying to make the best of things."

According to Sean Isabella, who has covered the saga extensively for The News-Star, SWAC bylaws say Grambling is on the hook for a $20,000 fine. Isabella also reported Friday night that James said no players would see their scholarships revoked because of the boycott, though James did mention scholarship agreements said revocation can happen if a player doesn't attend practice or games. 

Meanwhile, Friday night ended with a team without a game Saturday and a question mark on what happens next.

One person was proud of how the players handled everything.

"I'm proud of them boys," said Doug Williams in a text message to USA Today columnist Jarrett Bell. "They took a stance."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Grambling Players Angry With Adminstration, Boycott Practice Wed; Practice Canceled Thursday and Interim Coach Fired


Typical on the Gulf Coast, but when it rains, it pours. And around the Grambling football program, it probably feels like a monsoon right now.

In the midst of an 0-7 season, following a 1-10 season last year, and an early season coaching change,Grambling coaches and officials are now dealing with unhappy players who boycotted practice Wednesday and practice was canceled on Thursday.

On top of that, interim head coach George Ragland has been fired today by the school.

It all leaves folks in Jackson, Miss., wondering since the Tigers are supposed to be the Homecoming opponent for Southwestern Athletic Conference power Jackson State Saturday.

Jackson State spokesman Eric Stringfellow said Thursday evening that the game was still go.  SWAC officials said the 2 p.m. will proceed as scheduled.

But things are weird in Lousisiana.

It all stems from a Tuesday evening meeting between players and Grambling administrators, including school president Frank Pogue, athletic director Aaron James and Ragland.

Administrators sought to show their support for the winless team that went 1-10 last season.  But frustrations bubbled over when players complained about having to take bus trips from Grambling, La., to games in Kansas City, Mo., and Indianapolis, Ind., this season.  Their opponent in Indianapolis' Circle City Classic, Alcorn State of Mississippi, flew to that game. 

According to reports, the players also are still smarting over the September firing of former head coach Doug Williams.  USA Today, who quoted an unnamed source, reported the players are also unhappy about not receiving all the meals they are supposed to on road trips and of the poor state of facilities, such as their weight room.

 But the meeting turned negative and players walked out and didnt come to practice Wednesday.  Ragsdale's assistants weren't invited, according to USA Today, which also signaled a rift between Rasgdale and his assistants.

“It was basically a mutiny,” a source told the Shreveport Times. “(The team) rode the bus all that way (to Indianapolis), and then come back and are disrespected like that (in Tuesday’s meeting).
“(The team) is standing together because they don’t know if anybody else is standing with them.”

 “Things are rough, and we understand our players' frustration,” Grambling spokesman Will Sutton told The News Star Wednesday. “The president is frustrated, the A.D. is frustrated, the students are frustrated, the alumni are frustrated, so we fully understand our players' frustration.”
But things got worse Thursday afternoon.

The school reportedly fired Ragland and replaced him with defensive coordinator and former Pittsburgh Steeler great, Dennis "Dirt" Winston. 

Apparently, that's what the team wanted. 

“As a team, we feel like we wanted (Ragsdale) to actually step down,” safety Naquan Smith told the News Star newspaper Thursday. “(The team) is behind us because they know what we’ve been going through. They know the struggle. We said we’re behind each other 100 percent.”

The team met at 3 p.m. Thursday afternoon to decide if they would be in uniform Saturday.  And a closed evening practice was scheduled for tonight.

But the story remains fluid.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tennessee State and Winston-Salem State Lead Adds HBCU Sports Report Top Ten Polls


Winston-Salem State served notice last weekend that new faces means old results as they shut down one of the CIAA's top teams during a festive homecoming weekend and continued to sit in the top spot of the Add's HBCU Sports Report HBCU Top Ten Poll for Division II schools.

The Rams broke open a tight game with fourth-ranked Johnson C. Smith to pull away for a 44-17 win in Winston-Salem.  Second ranked Tuskegee blasted SIAC foe Morehouse 54-10 to retain their second place ranking.

The middle of the Division II Top Ten poll saw a lot of changes as Fayetteville State lost last weekend. The Broncos fell to ninth while Stillman moved up to fifth and St. Augustine to sixth. Lane entered the poll for the first time this season at tenth.

In the Division I-Football Championship Series HBCU Top Ten Poll, Tennessee State continued to command the top spot after defeating one of the nation's top FCS teams in Jacksonville State, 31-15.  Bethune-Cookman is in the second spot while South Carolina State, Jackson State and Alabama State are the top five.

Here are the two Add's HBCU Sports Report Top Ten Polls for this week:

Division I- Football Championship Series
1) Tennessee State
2) Bethune-Cookman
3) South Carolina State
4) Jackson State
5) Alabama State
6) Alcorn State
7) Prairie View
8) North Carolina A&T
9) North Carolina Central
10) Southern

     Division II
1) Winston-Salem State
2) Tuskegee
3) Virginia State
4) Johnson C. Smith
5) Stillman
6) Kentucky State
7) St.Augustine's
8) Chowan
9) Fayetteville State
10) Lane

Monday, October 14, 2013

HBCU Basketball Tips Off Basketball Practice at Midnight Tonight


At the stroke of midnight tonight, the lights will shine on the hardwood courts across America as the first day that college basketball teams can officially hold practice is now upon us.

It's Oct. 15 and hoops dreams abound around historically black college/university basketball.

In the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Bowie State and Winston-Salem State have been predicted to be the top teams in CIAA's Northern and Southern Divisions.  Winston-Salem State had seniors, Preston Ross and Tyree Desmore, to make the All-CIAA men's team, while Livingstone (predicted to finish second in the Southern Division to the Rams) also had two players on the squad, seniors Jody Hill and Mark "AJ" Thomas.

On the women's side, Elizabeth City State and Shaw are expected to win the Northern and Southern Divisions. Elizabeth City State is led by All-Conference performers DaShera Boone and Derricka Henry. The two predicted runners-up, Virginia Union and Winston-Salem State, each had two All-SIAC picks on their squads (Ashle Freeman and Melyse Brown for VUU and Dionna Scott and Somalia McKinner for the Rams).

In the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, new faces will be the story around the league this season.

Rickey Jackson is Claflin's new men's basketball coach.  He served five years as a top assistant at Shaw.

"It is an honor to be here, and we intend to be visible in this community and build a winning program," he said during his opening press conference. "I am a man of a very few words but I must thank Shaw University for giving me an opportunity to learn and grow. Now I am ready to take off. We are going to win, we will win, and we will win." 

Morehouse is coming off a 20-8 season that saw them fall in the SIAC championship game to Benedict.  The Maroon Tigers lose three of their top players from last year, though they return the SIAC's Newcomer of the Year from last season, Darrius Williams.  But Williams, a former All-SIAC football player at Morehouse, only has one semester of eligibility remaining.  He won't be on the court until January.  Head coach Grady Brewer is counting on a number of newcomers and junior college transfers to bolster his squad.

They dont get long to get ready.  The Maroon Tigers take on the ACC's North Carolina State in Raleigh in early November and then take part in the first annual HBCU Tip-Off Classic at Atlanta's Philips Arena right afterwards.

Stillman's men, who finished 18-9 last season, will play against the likes of Duke, Arizona and Alabama in the Preseason NIT Classic.  They take on Alabama in the first round on Nov. 18.

"The Stillman College basketball team and community is very excited to be one of two teams from Division II selected to play in the renown Preseason NIT Tournament," Stillman head coach Mike Grant said. "The opportunity to compete in such a prestigious tournament also speaks volumes for our program and the brand of basketball played in the SIAC."

On the women's side, Claflin's women also got a new basketball coach as Deont'a McChester takes over a team that was 10-19 last season.

 McChester credits his coaching philosophy to legendary Claflin head coach Nelson Bronwlee.

 “Coaches may come and coaches may go but it doesn’t mean anything if you have not have an impact on the players,” said McChester.

Former Grambling assistant coach Erica Henry will be the interim head coach of the Fort Valley State women's basketball team. 

The Shreveport, LA native is joining the Lady Wildcats for the first time as Head Women's basketball coach but this will be Coach Henry's second stop at FVSU, as she served as an assistant coach in 2011-12 under Coach Lonnie Bartley.