We know about the big boys. But what about the little guys? Throughout the 2012 college football season, Playbook Fandom will take a look at some of the less recognizable schools you might see on scoreboards and TV screens.
Meet the South Carolina State University Bulldog. He's not as well-known as Georgia's Uga, but this year he's almost as well-traveled. Last Saturday he visited Tucson, Ariz., to see his namesakes take on No. 22 Arizona. This weekend he heads to College Station, Texas, and the intimidating confines of Texas A&M's Kyle Field.
Of course, that's not the only thing to know about SCSU, a Historically Black College & University (HBCU) of between 4,000 and 5,000 students located in rural Orangeburg, S.C., just 45 miles south of the state capital (and home of the Gamecocks) Columbia.
Playbook takes a look:
• SCSU might not be the traditional path to professional football success, but it's been instrumental in a few stars' development. Consider: It's the only South Carolina school with a former player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And it has three. The first: former Cleveland Browns running back Marion Motley (inducted in 1968). Next: Former Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers defensive end David “Deacon” Jones, who spent one year with the Bulldogs and was inducted in 1980. Then came New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson, who was enshrined in 2006.
• After a long football playoff drought, the Bulldogs returned in 2008 and then 2010, winning at least shares of three consecutive MEAC titles. In 2009, the Bulldogs also won the mythical black national championship.
• All three of those seasons were played under coach Oliver "Buddy" Pough, an Orangeburg native and alumnus whose playing days saw two league titles and whose earlier coaching career had him learn under former Gamecocks leader Lou Holtz (as a running backs coach).
• More football history: Former coach (and current coach emeritus) Willie Jeffries, the winningest coach in school history, was the first black head coach at a Division I-A school (Wichita State). He's also one of three SCSU alumni in the College Football Hall of Fame (along with Carson and former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Donnie Shell).
• Since being founded in 1896, SCSU has aimed to promote agriculture and mechanical studies to black young adults in the Palmetto State. Even now it stands out in that field; the school offers the only undergraduate environmental science field station in the nation.
• Join up: SCSU's ROTC program has graduated more black officers into the country’s armed forces that any other school, with 16 of them reaching the rank of general.
• SCSU has also produced 15 college presidents.
• Another notable non-sports alumnus: James E. Clyburn, the nation's current assistant Democratic leader.
• SCSU is the only HBCU with an art museum and planetarium in one facility: the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium. It also has the only bachelor of science program in nuclear engineering in South Carolina and at a HBCU.