Preserving History & Legacies
Some of history was recorded in black and white. It was during this era that Black college basketball was played and some moments in history was made. In the 1950s, Dick Barnett and the Tennessee Tigers shocked the nation with triple (back to back to back national championships). Earl Lloyd led a magnificent West Virginia State title team that propelled him into NBA lore. (He later became the first Black player to be named a head coach with the Detroit Pistons) and Earl “The Pearl” Monroe capped off a magnificent college career at Winston-Salem State with the 1967 NCAA Div. II crown. Did we mention he and Lloyd are Pro Basketball Hall of Fame members? A little known memory is the championship team of the Lady Tigers of Jackson State, who captured the 1980 AIAW Div. II honors.
The Class of 2018 will be honored at the Ninth Annual Black College Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Presented by the Atlanta Falcons on February 10, 2018. The Induction Ceremony takes place at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia. The Inductees will also be recognized at the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta on December 16th. For more information please visit the www.BlackCollegeFootballHOF.org.
A Trailblazer ...
William “Bill” Hayes
Billy Hayes got his first college coaching job as an assistant at Wake Forest in the mid-1970 before he became the head coach at Winston-Salem State University, where he turned an 0-10 program into back-to-back CIAA champions in 1977 and ’78. He won another CIAA title in 1987 before going to Division I N.C. A&T in 1988 and took the Aggies to three MEAC championships. He compiled a 195-104-2 record in his coaching career and went on to have an outstanding career as an athletic director his alma mater, N.C. Central, Florida A&M and back at WSSU, where the Rams made it to the Division II national championship game in 2012. Hayes was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame in 2017.
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This month in Black College Sports: 1901 Grambling State University opened as the Colored Industrial and Agricultural School…founded by the North Louisiana Colored Agriculture Relief Association (organized in 1896 by a group of African-American farmers who wanted to organize and operate a school for African Americans in their region of the state). Charles P. Adams was the first president…1924 MAGIC CITY CLASSIC…The first football game between Alabama A&M University and Alabama State University became an annual tradition in post-war 1945 at Legion Field in Birmingham (Alabama State leads the series 39-36-3)…1928 FIRST BLACK COLLEGE HOMECOMING GAME was played between Howard University and Virginia Union University…
That Magical Season…
Black college football became a victim of the rapid succession of talent after integration in the 1970s. Florida A&M University had enjoyed a long winning tradition, beginning with head coaches Bill Bell (1936-44) and Alonza “Jake” Gaither (1945-1969). When Rudy Hubbard took the reins in 1977, the Rattlers posted an 11-0 record (the only undefeated season in the nation that year).
The following season, the Rattlers would enjoy their most heralded season- going 12-1 and winning the inaugural NCAA Division I-AA national title in 1978.
The playoff bracket pitted the Rattlers against SWAC power Jackson State led by their vaunted running backs Perry Harrington and Jeffrey Moore and future NFL tight end Buster Barnett. The Rattlers prevailed 15-10 and set up the championship match against the University of Massachusetts in the Pioneer Bowl.
It was a high scoring battle that the Rattlers pulled out, 35-28, capping the first and last HBCU national football title in Division 1-AA (now FCS).
Three-time All-America Guard Tyrone McGriff, (1977-79) was a leader on that team and became the last pick (333rd Overall) in the 1980 NFL Draft (Mr. Irrelevant). McGriff played three seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and three in the USFL with the 1983 USFL champions Michigan Panthers.
He was one of the first small college players to be enshrined the the College Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
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FAMU Upsets no. 10 Miami, Florida
BY 1979, Howard Schnellenberger had brought Miami University of Florida back into national prominence. Ranked no. 10 in the nation, he took a chance on playing a Black college football legendary powerhouse, Florida AM University. The Rattlers were revered in the state of Florida, even though they were never considered a heavyweight contender in the same class as the University of Florida, Florida State and the Hurricanes. During the reign of head coach Alonza “Jake” Gaither, they hosted the fabled Orange Blossom Classic, the largest attended Black college post season game.
Rudy Hubbard stepped into the shadow of the great Jake Gaither in 1974 and made an impact right away as they went 30-5 from 1977-79, winning the inaugural NCAA 1-AA football championship in 1978. Schnellenberger had an idea they were at best a formidable opponent, but nobody saw this coming.
Lost in the shocking highlights of the game that saw FAMU’s vaunted defense stymie the Hurricanes, was the biggest plays of the game. Leading 16-13 as time winded down in the fourth quarter, the ‘Canes had driven down to the Rattlers’ 3-yard line. The Rattlers batted down a second and goal pass, setting up a third down play. FAMU defensive tackle Algie Hendrieth made the play of his career as he swatted away quarterback Mike Rodrique’s pass, forcing the failed field-goal attempt. The Cane’ kicker, Dan Miller sailed a 20-yard field goal attempt wide left and the Rattlers had their win.
This was vindication for many of the FAMU players from the Miami area high schools who had been snubbed by the bigger schools. It was a satisfying feeling as they finished the season at 7-5, following their NCAA Div. 1-AA championship year.