Saturday, January 25, 2014

Jackson State/Mississippi Valley State Football Coaching Carousel Ends With Hirings of Jackson and Comegys


The Jackson State/Mississippi Valley State head football coaching carousel has now ended as both schools have hired distinguished football coaches over the past week.

Jackson State hired Harold Jackson, the former Tiger receiver who went on to a great NFL playing career and long assistant coaching career in the NFL and college ranks.
Jackson State head coach Harold Jackson (Photo by Jackson St Athletics)

“I’m going to put the excitement and product on the field,” Jackson said. “Our players will have discipline in the classroom and on the competition level. Our football players will be developed as good citizens.”

The Jackson State job came open unexpectedly after Rick Comegy was let go by Jackson State, even as he led the team to an 8-4 season and a double-overtime loss to Southern in the SWAC title game in December.  Comegy was 55-35 in his eight seasons in rebuilding the JSU football program.  He only had one losing season at Jackson State and was 164-86 overall,(with only five losing seasons in 22 years) in head coaching stints at JSU, Tuskegee, Central State and Cheney. 

Instead of being about wins and losses, it was about grade point averages.  Several years ago, the program's NCAA Academic Progress Rate had hovered around the 900 threshold where NCAA sanctions become a possibility.  That rate had risen some during Comegy's tenure after being below 900 in 2008.

"This decision wasn't just about wins and losses," said Jackson State spokesman Eric Stringfellow told reporters. "This is about the direction of the program. This is about our student athletes, putting them in position to be successful in the classroom and wherever else they'll be.

"This isn't just about wins and losses," he said. "If you've done your homework, you can see that coach Comegy has had some success. This is about the direction of the program and about our student-athletes, putting them in position to be successful."

Out went Comegy and in comes Jackson at Jackson State.

But Comegy wouldn't be available for long.  Mississippi Valley State fired Karl Morgan in early December after a 2-9 2013 season and an 8-35 record in four seasons.  According to sources, new Mississippi Valley State president William Bynum was looking at Morehouse College head coach Rich Freeman.  Despite a 2-8 record in an injury-deluged 2013, Freeman had gone 28-13 in the previous four seasons at Morehouse, where Bynum was a vice president before coming to Mississippi Valley State.

Then Comegy came available.  He was hired this past week.

MSVU President William Bynum and head coach Rick Comegy (Photo by MVSU)
"I want to build a program here where a team is consistently winning every year," Comegy said at his news conference.  "It takes a while to build a program, but if we can get some guys who are committed, a staff that is committed, I can tell we have a city that's committed, and I honestly believe that it won't take that long to build a program ...Once those little things get done, we will build a winner. It will be a consistent winner.

"I think I can do a lot of good here," he added. 

Mark James Named Virginia Union Football Coach

Mark James (left) is introduced as the new Virginia Union football coach by VUU athletic director Joe Taylor. (photo by Joe Mahoney/Richmond Times Dispatch)

Virginia Union defensive line coach Mark James has been named head coach for the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference school.

James replaces Michael Bailey, who was dismissed in December after a 3-7 season in which they lost the first three games and the last four.  The Panthers were 22-28 during Bailey's six years and haven't had a winning season since 2009.

“I’m very humble at this moment,” James said, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “These dear old walls mean a lot to me. These students, the faculty mean a lot. After this press conference, it’s the last time I really want to focus on myself. We have a lot of work to do and I want the focus to be on those young men to get it done.”

James has been the defensive line coach for the past two years after a successful tenure as a high school football coach in Florida.  He also served as an assistant at Norfolk State and St. Paul's College.

His focus at Virginia Union will be to change attitudes, he said.

“We have to change the attitude,” James said. “We have to change the attitude and let these young men who are on this team understand that winning isn’t easy. That you have to win in practice, you have to win academically, you have to win at study hall and that you have to win at every place that counts.

South Carolina State Football Player Fatally Shot on Campus Friday; Teen Arrested Saturday and Charged With His Murder

Brandon Robinson

Another young life has been cut down on a college campus as 20-year-old South Carolina State University football player Brandon Robinson was fatally shot on campus Friday.

According to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Saturday morning said 19-year-old Justin Bernard Singleton of Charleston, S.C., was arrested and charged with the murder of Robinson.  According to CNN, police said the two were arguing around 1:30 p.m. Friday in the University's Andrew Hugine Suites Living and Learning Community when Singleton pulled a gun and shot Robinson in the neck. 

Charged with Robinson's Murder is 19-year-old Justin Bernard Singleton
The Associated Press reported that Singleton was arrested just after midnight at the parking lot of an apartment complex in Orangeburg, said Thom Berry, a public information officer with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Robinson was a redshirt junior defensive lineman who was an Orangeburg native playing for his hometown school.  He played in four games this past season, making five tackles. 

"We are saddened by the loss of one our own students," said South Carolina State president Thomas J. Elzey Friday.  "Our deepest condolences go to the family of the victim."

Earlier in the day, he told reporters as he fought back tears, "We again are extraordinarily sad about this. He was a very nice young man. And it hurts.  It hurts us all."

The South Carolina State campus was temporarily locked down as police searched for four males who were seen leaving the campus area. Claflin University, located across the street from South Carolina State was also temporarily locked down.

"Of course, our first order of business here is to make sure our students are safe and cared for during this very difficult time," Elzey said Friday. "Grief counseling is being made available for our students, faculty and staff."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

SWAC Mens Hoops Race Tightens; Full Weekend Schedule of SWAC Action

Photo by

It's early in the Southwestern Athletic Conference men's basketball season, but already the conference race has become a topsy-turvy one.

First, the team league coaches predicted would win the conference, Texas Southern, is struggling having lost two SWAC games already and struggling to beat two teams in the middle of the pack, Prairie View and Jackson State. 

Arkansas-Pine Bluff, a team that was being looked at as a title contender, is 4-13 on the season and 2-3 in the conference.

And finally, league leader Southern was rolling along at 5-0 in the SWAC until they were upended by one of the conference's cellar-dwellers but very offensively talented, Mississippi Valley State last night.

Welcome to the SWAC race.

Here are the current SWAC standings: 

Southern   5-1 
Alabama State 4-1
Alcorn State  4-2
Texas Southern  3-2
Alabama A&M  3-2
Prairie View A&M  3-2
Arkansas-Pine Bluff   2-3
Jackson State 2-4
Mississippi Valley State  1-4
Grambling State  0-6

Heading into a big weekend, here is the SWAC schedule:

- Alabama A&M tries to tighten the conference race when they visit league-leader Southern Saturday.
- A battle for second takes place in Mississippi Saturday as Alcorn State hosts Alabama State
- Mississippi Valley State tries to follow up their big win over SWAC leader Southern when they visit talented Texas Southern
- Grambling, with only one win all season, looks to pick up their first SWAC win when they visit Jackson State
- Arkansas-Pine Bluff tries to even their record when they visit Texas Southern Monday
- Alcorn State tries to keep their SWAC championship dreams on pace when they host Alabama A&M Monday