(Above, left to right: Tyrone Wheatley, Rudy Hubbard, Joe Taylor, Deion Sanders, Eddie George, Willie Jeffries)
Forty-two years ago, Willie Jeffries made headlines when he became the first African American to “cross over” the color line as the head football coach at Wichita State University, a white institution. He later coached several HBCUs to national prominence.
It was forty-three years ago when Joe Taylor, a graduate of Western Illinois University helped lead Eastern Illinois University to the 1978 NCAA Division II National Football. He later reaped Hall of Fame honors as he went on to build championships at three HBCUs.
That same year, Rudy Hubbard, a graduate of Ohio State University, led the Florida A&M Rattlers to the 1978 Inaugural NCAA Division I-AA Football Championship. This odyssey is one example of how African American coaches have been instrumental in the success of collegiate sports.
Recently, there was a loud drumroll when Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders’ (Florida State) was appointed head football coach at Jackson State.
That was followed by Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George (Ohio State) taking the reins at Tennessee State.
NCAA and NFL standout Tyrone Wheatley (Michigan) was named head coach at Morgan State, another storied HBCU football icon. This has also fueled a resurgence of highly rated high school recruits and transfers into the HBCU football programs, which is slowly emerging into the national spotlight.
The future is bright for HBCU sports. Stay tuned.
See Coaches profiles
ALCORN STATE UNIVERSITY, the oldest public historically black institution in the United States (originally founded by Presbyterians in 1828.) It was the the first black land grant college in the country. In 1974, Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College was renamed Alcorn State University
Steve McNair Fred McNair Leslie Frazier Medgar Evers Larry Smith