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No MEAC-SWAC Game on Delaware State Schedule
DOVER – Delaware State’s official football schedule is remarkable not for which teams the Hornets play in 2008, but the one it won’t.
DSU, fresh off its first appearance in the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs, has a second consecutive away game with I-A Kent State and will play Florida A&M at Alumni Stadium for the first time since 2002 in the season opener Sept. 6. But the Hornets, 10-2 last season, will not play in the annual MEAC-SWAC Challenge.
That apparently sits just fine with coach Al Lavan.
The MEAC-SWAC Challenge – a series theoretically matching the defending champions from the historically black Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and Southwestern Athletic Conference in a showcase game to start the season – won’t include the MEAC champion Hornets.
Instead, Hampton, 6-5 last season, will play SWAC champion Jackson State on Aug. 31 at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium on ESPN2.
“We were led to believe the champions from the MEAC and SWAC would meet,” Lavan said. “Originally, we thought we were in. But we determined, after some time, that unless the conference said we were in and we had to fix our schedule, then we just have to play the way it is.”
The Challenge, announced last week, had its own share of problems when a lead promoter backed out, forcing the game to move from its original home of Birmingham, Ala.
Lavan said playing in the Challenge may have meant moving around other games on the schedule to prevent the Hornets from playing too many consecutive weeks. The Hornets will have Sept. 20 as their open date next season.
Lavan said he would have liked to play in the Challenge and wasn’t told by the MEAC office why DSU was left out.
“I don’t know; only the commissioner [Dennis Thomas] can speak to that,” he said. “In the end, the schedule works for us.”
A representative from the MEAC referred questions about who picks the teams for the nationally televised game to ESPN. Officials from ESPN could not be reached for comment. Thomas was out of the office this week.
Although Division I-AA teams have the option of playing 12 games next season, Lavan said he decided against it in order to give his team needed rest. He said several other I-A teams offered to play, but Lavan didn’t want to have two games against upper-division teams.
DSU will play Sept. 13 at Kent State, of the Mid-American Conference. The Golden Flashes won 38-7 last season, handing DSU its only loss of the regular season.
When DSU faces FAMU, it will see a familiar face in first-year coach Joe Taylor, who left Hampton last season after a highly successful tenure.
The Hornets five other home games: Central Connecticut State (Sept. 27), Hampton (Oct. 4), North Carolina A&T (Oct. 18), South Carolina State (Nov. 1) and MEAC probationary member Winston-Salem State (Nov. 8).
No MEAC-SWAC game on DSU’s ‘08 football schedule
By Kristian Pope, Delaware News-Journal