Last Saturday was a big day for two of black college football’s storied programs.
North Carolina A&T defeated Bethune-Cookman 24-14 to improve to 5-1 on the season, 3-0 in the MEAC. A few hours later, Grambling blocked an overtime PAT attempt to upset defending SWAC Champ Alcorn State 35-34 in front of a national television audience.
The parallels between Grambling and A&T are pretty compelling. Not only did both teams win their games, they both took control of their own destinies, as A&T took sole possession of the MEAC lead while Grambling’s win and Southern’s loss made it the team to beat in the SWAC West.
More importantly, both wins signified their programs’ return to their winning ways after bouts with futility.
Winners of four MEAC Championships from 1990-2003 under former coach Bill Hayes, A&T hit rock bottom in the 2006-2007 seasons under coach Lee Fobbs, going winless for two-straight seasons. The program has recovered in recent years since hiring current coach Rod Broadway, who came to A&T from…Grambling.
A&T lured Broadway back to his home state from the Bayou, where he laid the groundwork for Grambling to win the 2011 SWAC Title. Things soon went south, resulting in a 2013 season that got Doug Williams fired and culminated in an ugly boycott. Things began to turn around last season under Broderick Fobbs (son of Lee), who led the team to a 7-5 record in 2014.
Fast forward to today, both programs have another conference championship in their sights.
There’s still more than a month to play, and anything can happen, but don’t be surprised if the two teams meet up at the end of the season in the first-ever Celebration Bowl.