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DSU ready to dream big against UD
Kermit Blount knows what it’s like to have the proverbial rug pulled out from under him.
The new coach at Delaware State University was the coach at Division II Winston-Salem State two years ago as the school was nearing the end of a five-year plan to make the transition from Division II to Division I-AA, or the Football Championship Subdivision.
Everything seemed in place, and the team was eagerly anticipating the move into the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. It already had increased the scholarships from 38 under Division II rules to 55. It was playing a full FCS schedule.
Then, just before that season started, the school called an audible and announced that it was going back to Division II.
Blount and the players were devastated. The Rams went 1-10 that season, and Blount was asked to resign when it was over.
“It certainly hurt the players, and I found that I became more of a father figure than a coach because they relied on me to help guide them,” Blount said. “It just felt like we pulled that cart to the top of the hill, then all of a sudden, they just let it go.
“That was a hard pill to swallow.”
Delaware State has a similar story, although not as agonizing. At about the time that WSSU was looking into joining the MEAC, the Hornets, under former president Dr. Allen Sessoms, were looking at bolting the MEAC for Division I-A, or the Football Bowl Subdivision.
DSU’s plans never got off the ground, mainly because it wasn’t equipped to make the move, whether it was the talent on the football field, or the facilities, or the fan and donor support.
Winston-Salem State got much further before realizing that the money, the facilities and the support weren’t there, either.
Blount learned a valuable lesson that season, which actually was espoused by legendary Winston-Salem basketball coach Clarence “Big House” Gaines when the school’s intention to move to the FCS was announced in July 2004:
“I’m from Kentucky, where we breed horses,” Gaines said then. “And you don’t send a jackass to the Kentucky Derby.”
And you definitely don’t send a jackass to the FBS.
Still, Sessoms’ grandiose dreams paved the way for a new athletic training facility at the school – one that’s the envy of the University of Delaware, the Hornets’ opponent Saturday – an increase in scholarships for football and DSU’s first-ever postseason berth in 2007.
That ended with a 44-7 loss to UD in the first-ever meeting between the two schools in football.
Now, the two schools are playing an annual series.
So while the dream of competing with the likes of FBS powers like Michigan (a 63-6 defeat in 2009) was pure folly, it is not pure folly to see Delaware State one day beating the Hens, maybe as soon as this Saturday.
The Hens, after all, won by only 27-17 in 2009. And they looked vulnerable against Division II West Chester last Saturday. Of course, so did DSU against Division II Shaw.
But the Hornets felt like they had a chance two years ago, just like they feel like they have a chance now.