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SWAC coach says S.C. State should stay in FCS playoffs
Sitting outside the visitors locker room Saturday night at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium, a drained Mississippi Valley State head coach Karl Morgan watched his players limp quietly into the dressing quarters.
His Delta Devils were physically pounded on both sides of the football by 15th-ranked South Carolina State, 44-0. Compared to what it showed against the Bulldogs, Mississippi Valley State looked more competitive a week earlier in scoring two field goals in a 34-6 loss at Alabama State.
On Saturday, the Delta Devils managed just 44 total yards and were held to just six first downs, two aided by penalties. Despite their constant blitzes which at times disrupted S.C. State’s passing game, Mississippi Valley State allowed 489 total yards and this does not include the 117 in kick return yards.
All Morgan could do afterward aside from regrouping his players was marvel at head coach Oliver “Buddy” Pough’s team and take notes.
“That’s what it takes to get to this level,” he said. “You want to be the top team in (Football Championship Subdivision), you’ve got to start and be like those guys. They were big, strong, fast and physical and we’ve got to get to that somehow.”
Morgan went further in his praise of S.C. State by broaching a subject which has dominated black college football the past year. As a head coach in the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Morgan is steadfast behind his support for a proposed Legacy Bowl which would pit the SWAC regular-season champion against the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s.
Should it occur - and the MEAC is currently still vetting the issue (a final decision is expected around March according to commissioner Dennis Thomas) - the MEAC would abdicate its automatic qualifier berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
Having served as defensive coordinator for a Hampton team which competed in the FCS playoffs. Morgan would also like to see the Bulldogs continue to showcase their abilities in that postseason tournament.
“They need to stay in the playoffs,” Morgan said. “That’s the word I told the players. I told them, ‘Hey, let’s go out there and win some games.’ This team needs to be the flagbearer for all black college football. I think they’re at the top. They need to go out there and reach the quarterfinals, if not win it.”
When asked to respond to Morgan’s comments, Pough once again referred all questions regarding the Legacy Bowl to his administrators.
“I think the Legacy Bowl questions are being handled from my administration and I’m trying to stay away from it,” Pough said.
What speaks louder than any comment from Pough and what serves as ammunition for those against the Legacy Bowl is his record, specifically against historically black colleges:
– 68-13 against all HBCUs
– 52-11 against MEAC schools.
– 17-1 against non-MEAC HBCUs.
– 3-0 against the SWAC.
– 2-0 in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge.
The argument can be legitimately made that S.C. State’s program has more than proven itself against its fellow HBCUs. At this point, the program trying to reach the next level in its quest to become a national champion.
As an HBCU coach told me earlier last week, the Bulldogs must be allowed to break through against nationally ranked non-HBCUs like an Appalachian State or Villanova. Winning a Legacy Bowl would only reaffirm the stature S.C. State currently holds in the minds of Morgan and other HBCU coaches, but do little toward advancing the school toward its desired goal of NCAA champion.
Mississippi Valley State is not Prairie View and a Bulldogs/Panthers matchup could produce a more competitive, compelling outcome. At the same time, would such a game serve the MEAC or SWAC in earning them more respectability and even legitimacy in some circles?
That’s a question both commissioners and the school presidents need to answer before making a final decision.
By Thomas Grant Jr., The Times and Democrat