Dolphins great earns honorary doctorate

As a Hall of Fame offensive guard with the Miami Dolphins and a star player for Bethune-Cookman, Larry Little has enjoyed a great many accolades throughout his football life. Yet Little was still humbled to receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Bethune-Cookman’s graduation ceremony last week.

“It was a great honor, especially being an alumnus,” said Little, one of Bethune-Cookman’s most prestigious alumni. “They had over 350 graduates. When I graduated [in 1967], my class had 120. There were only 750 students at that time. The campus has really grown over the years. But the honorary doctorate is second to none. I want to thank the president, Dr. [Edison] Jackson, and the board of trustees for bestowing this honor on me.”

A 2011 MEAC/SWAC Challenge Legend, Little earned all-conference honors in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for his brilliant play as a Wildcat. Even so, he wasn’t drafted by an NFL team. In 1967, Little signed with the San Diego Chargers as a free agent. Then, in 1968, he was traded to Miami, and that’s where he made his mark.

Little quickly became a starter in his first season with the Dolphins. He was selected as an All-Pro six times with the team. In 1970, Little’s outstanding blocking skills helped Miami win 10 games and capture its first AFC Eastern Division title in 1971. In 1972, the Dophins finished the season with a 17-0 record. The team went on to win Super Bowl VII, and remains the only NFL team to have won the Super Bowl with a perfect season. The Dolphins also won Super Bowl VIII.

In 1980, after 13 seasons with the Dolphins, Little retired from professional football and moved into coaching. He was head coach at his alma mater from 1983-1991. In 1992, he became head coach of the Ohio Glory in the World League of American Football, and served as head coach at North Carolina Central from 1993-1998.

The MEAC/SWAC Challenge game, broadcast on ESPN, will take place on Aug. 31 at Bright House Networks Stadium in Orlando, Fla. North Carolina A&T State and Alabama A&M will battle for bragging rights in this HBCU classic, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

“The game has really grown nicely over the years,” said Little, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. “It looks like they have a good one this season. I’m pretty familiar with North Carolina A&T. They have two assistants who played for me in Trei Oliver and Shawn Gibbs, and one who worked for me in Sam Washington. I’m sure a lot of people will be watching.”