PRESERVING HISTORY & LEGACIES
CHANGING FACES IN BLACK COLLEGE FOOTBALL
(Left: Tyrone Wheatley (Morgan State), Rudy Hubbard (FAMU), Joe Taylor (Hampton, FAMU, VUU), Deion Sanders (Jackson State), Eddie George (Tennessee State), Willie Jeffries (Howard, SC State, Ft. Valley State)
FROM LEGENDS TO NEW AGE COACHES
(Above, left to right: Tyrone Wheatley, Rudy Hubbard, Joe Taylor, Deion Sanders, Eddie George, Willie Jeffries)
Forty-two years ago (1979), 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 went on to coach 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 after building 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 named head football coach at Jackson State.
That was followed by Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George (Ohio State) taking the reins at Tennessee State.
Another Big Ten and NFL star player Tyrone Wheatley (Michigan) was named head coach at Morgan State, another storied HBCU football icon. With a resurgence of highly rated high school recruits and transfers showing interest in HBCUs, it is casting these programs into the national spotlight.
The future is bright for HBCU sports. Stay tuned.
(I know there may be some that may not have been acknowledged, so let us know if we can add them here.
See Coaches profiles
A CELEBRATION of BLACK COLLEGE HISTORY in SPORTS
This Month in History
After a forty-three year absence, one of the truly great Black college football pageantries – the Orange Blossom Classic – was renewed on Labor Day, September 5, 2021.
Starting in 1939, the game provided some of the best highlights of football powers until the curtain came down in 1978. Ironically, it was the same year Black colleges staked a claim to national fame when the host of the OBC, Florida A&M Rattlers, won the inaugural NCAA Division I-AA National Championship. No other HBCU has claimed a national football title since then. This year, FAMU hosts the Jackson State Tigers in their first SWAC rivalry.
Labor Day 2021 was the setting for another Black college football classic. The Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic made its debut at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in 2019 at Canton, Ohio, but cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year’s game featured two HBCU legendary teams, Grambling State University of the Southwestern Athletic Conference and Tennessee State University (Ohio Valley Conference).
OBC: Renewing A Tie to the Past
In the first game since 1978, the Jackson State Tigers edged the host Rattlers of Florida A&M, 7-6 in a defensive dominated game in the Orange Blossom Classic.
QB Shedeur Sanders, son of NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, was named MVP. The event was held at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL.
Raising the Bar
QB Elijah Walker (Offensive MVP) and DB Kenan Fontenot (Defensive MVP), led the Grambling State Tigers to a hard-earned 16-10 victory over the Tigers of Tennessee State in the Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic on Sunday afternoon at Tom Benson Memorial Stadium. TSU was coached by NFL Hall of Fame RB Eddie George.