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Qualified HBCU coaches need to be given a shot in FBS

When you think about the number of black head coaches at FBS colleges around the country, it's really terrible.

With the resignation of Mississippi State head coach Sylvester Croom, this leaves Turner Gill (Buffalo), Kevin Sumlin (Houston) and Randy Shannon (Miami) as the only African-Americans coaching major college football.

The only thing worse than this situation is the lack of opportunities for black college coaches to move up the ladder to the FBS level. It's rare that an HBCU coach receives an interview or any kind of consideration for a major college head coaching job.

This is where a lot of presidents, athletic directors and administrators go wrong in their selections. These coaches are more than qualified to succeed in a FBS program. There aren't many coaches on any level better than Joe Taylor who just completed his first season at Florida A&M. Prior to taking over the Rattlers' program, Taylor spent 16 years at Hampton and compiled an amazing 136-49-1 record. In his 26-year coaching career, he owns a 205-79-4 mark.

He is only the eighth all-time FCS coach to win more than 200 games, joining coaching legends such as Grambling State's Eddie Robinson, Delaware's Tubby Raymond and former FAMU head coach Billy Joe, who is now coaching at Miles College.

Taylor isn't the only big-time HBCU coach. There are others capable of coaching major college football such as Rod Broadway (Grambling State), Pete Richardson (Southern), Rick Comegy (Jackson State), Buddy Pough (South Carolina State), Willie Slater (Tuskegee) and others.

This isn't a job advertisement for these coaches as they've remained committed to coaching black college football. And because of their efforts, these coaches have sent many players to the NFL, but more importantly, have provided a lot of young men with an opportunity to receive an education.

Furthermore, HBCU coaches are constantly doing more with less. They aren't getting the best athletes as they did years ago. Actually, black college coaches have to work as hard as ever. Moreover, these coaches don't have all the resources afforded most FBS programs, but they still manage to get the job done.

Willie Jeffries was the first black college coach to be hired by a major Division I-A program. In 1979, Jeffries left South Carolina State to become a head coach at Wichita State. That was 29 years ago. A lot of head coaches have been hired and fired during that time.

It's time to give the HBCU coaches a look.

HBCU notes

• For the second straight year, Jackson State will face Grambling State in the SWAC championship game. JSU captured the SWAC Eastern Division crown after defeating Alabama A&M on Nov. 15 Grambling clinched the Western Division with a win over Southern in the Bayou Classic on Nov. 29. A year ago, Jackson State beat Grambling State, 42-31 to win the conference title. The championship game will be played on Dec. 13 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.

• Grambling State sophomore quarterback Greg Dillon was named the SWAC offensive Player of the Week. Dillon totaled 287 yards and two touchdowns in the G-Men's 29-14 victor over Southern. Dillon completed 9-of-13 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. He had 26 carries for 136 yards.

• Grambling State LB Keefe Hall was selected the SWAC defensive Player of the Week. Hall made 12 tackles (eight solo) and had one interception in the Tigers' win over Southern.

• Andrew Lyons had a big day for Alabama State. Lyon made both PAT attempts and a 38-yard field to help the Hornets upset previously undefeated Tuskegee, 17-13. Lyons earned the SWAC specialist of the week honors.

• Alabama State defensive back Donovan Masline was named the SWAC newcomer of the week. Masline made eight tackles, one interception and two pass breakups in the Hornets' victory over Tuskegee.

• Grambling State has moved up to No. 1 in the both the Sheridan and Boxtrow.com/BASN polls. The Tigers win over Southern last week, combined with losses by Tuskegee to Alabama State and South Carolina State to Appalachian State vaulted Grambling State to the top spot.

• The postseason awards are out in the MEAC. South Carolina State running back Will Ford was selected as the MEAC offensive Player of the Year. Morgan State outside linebacker Jarrell Guyton received the defensive Player of the Year. South Carolina State head coach Buddy Pough was chosen as the league's Coach of the Year. Howard wide receiver Willie Carter earned Rookie of the Year honors, and South Carolina State center Raymond Harrison was chosen as the Offensive Lineman of the Year.

Ford, a junior, led the MEAC in rushing with 1,499 yards and was tied for third in the conference in scoring (78 points). He also scored 13 touchdowns and is just 1,009 yards away from becoming the MEAC's all-time leading rusher.

Guyton lead one of the most dominating defenses in the FCS. For the second consecutive year, the Bears led the FCS in total defense giving up less than 213.4 yards a game. He had 40 solo and 70 total tackles.

Pough led the Bulldogs to their first playoff appearance in 26 years, losing to defending FCS championship Appalachian State. South Carolina State finished the season with a 10-3 overall record and clinched the MEAC title with an 8-0 record.

Carter was a major player for the Bison. He caught 44 passes for 477 yards while catching six TDs. He averaged 10.8 yards a game.

• Harrison was a big part of the Bulldogs' offense. He helped South Carolina State amass 4,972 yards of total offense, including 2,651 yards on the ground.

Donald Hunt is a columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune. You can reach him at dhunt37261@aol.com.