Steve McNair’s collegiate legend kept growing, even in defeat

Steve McNair (QB, Alcorn State University, 1991-1994) has been named to the Black College Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012.

He joins 10 others selected from a list of 35 finalists who had been determined earlier by the Black College Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. Induction ceremonies will be held February 18, 2012 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis during the Priority Payment Systems third annual enshrinement ceremony.

Here’s a look back at a key moment in the collegiate career of Steve McNair, a game against Grambling that is often called the greatest ever played at storied Robinson Stadium. Longtime sports writer and editor Paul J. Letlow was there that day and shares this memory …

Early in my career as a journalist, I had the chance to interview McNair one-on-one in the summer before his senior year at Alcorn State. We talked in a hotel lobby in Shreveport, a stop for McNair as part of the old Southwestern Athletic Conference tour. I remember his huge hands and a humble demeanor, even as we mulled his Heisman chances. A couple of months later, on Sept. 3, 1994, I had the privilege of watching McNair play at Grambling State in a game that became part of Eddie G. Robinson’s lore. In an amazing offensive display by both teams, Grambling prevailed 62-56. Robinson later called it one of the most memorable wins in his own lengthy College Football Hall of Fame career. Here’s my original story …

By Paul J. Letlow
GRAMBLING — Grambling State’s love-hate relationship with Steve “Air II” McNair came to a rollicking finish Saturday night at Robinson Stadium.

It couldn’t have ended any better for the Tigers in front of a home crowd of 25,347. Grambling quarterback Kendrick Nord out dueled McNair, passing for 485 yards and seven touchdowns as the Tigers held on for a 62-56 win over the Braves.

“I didn’t come here to compete with McNair,” Nord said. “I came to win.”

In terms of raw numbers, McNair had the upper hand. He completed 27-of-52 passes for 534 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 99 yards and another score. His 633 yards were 10 off the Division I-AA record for total offense. But in a change of fortunes for McNair, he couldn’t produce the magic that had made him 3-0 against Eddie Robinson during his college career.

“He’s just a great athlete,” Robinson said. “It’s a bittersweet win for us.” Known for his last-second heroics, McNair had one final shot at rallying his team to an unprecedented fourth consecutive victory over Grambling.
Trailing by six points with 1:39 left in the game, the senior quarterback moved his team from the Alcorn 37 to Grambling’s 11 and had two shots at the end zone. On third-and-10 with four seconds remaining, McNair’s pass went through the arms of receiver Percy Singleton.

“He hit the kid right in the numbers offensive coordinator Ricky Taylor said. “All he had to do was hang on. Then we kick the extra point and win the game.”

On the game’s final snap, McNair scrambled right and fired a bullet to fullback Tony Bullock in the right corner of the end zone, but freshman Christopher Singleton broke up the play as time expired. “Their defensive end got the jump up field and rushed us out of the pocket,” Taylor said. “He forced us to one side f the field and that cut down on our chances.”

Grambling took the lead for good with nine minutes left in the game. Nord capped a five-play, 65-yard drive with a 25-yard scoring pass to Curtis Ceasar. The two teams combined for 1,318 yards total offense, as Grambling rolled up 612 and Alcorn gained 706. Grambling wingback Tyronne Jones caught six passes for 157 yards and three touchdowns, and Ceasar had five catches for 144 yards and three touchdowns.

Turnovers were the biggest culprit for Alcorn. Grambling cornerback Akili Johnson intercepted two McNair passes and recovered a fumble by running back Harry Brown.

The game was billed as a matchup for the ages. The strapping young Heisman hopeful versus the legend played out in front of a braying crowd.

The Alcorn State quarterback was a consistent pain for Robinson in three prior meetings, whipping the Tigers in every fashion possible during his college career. In prior outings, McNair’s feats left Grambling slack-jawed, frustrated and crowing about next year.

But the game was for more than just bragging rights between bitter rivals. Forget for a moment that Alcorn coach Cardell Jones was trying to become the first to play Robinson four times and remain undefeated.

Also put aside the fact that the Braves could have joined Jackson State as the only schools to defeat Grambling four consecutive years. This was a meeting of two early favorites for the SWAC title.

With the win, Grambling moved to the forefront of what should be a great race. Alcorn is relegated to playing catch-up.

“Now every weekend, we’ve got to sit back and see what Grambling does,” said Alcorn’s Marcus Hinton, who caught nine passes for 184 yards. This hurts. But we did all we could and we left it on the field.”


The other 2012 inductees into the Black College Football Hall of Fame …

Willie Brown (DB, Grambling State University, 1959-1963)
Harry Carson (DE, South Carolina State University, 1972-1975)
Eldridge Dickey (QB, Tennessee State University, 1964-1967)
James “Shack” Harris (QB, Grambling State University, 1965-68)
Claude Humphrey (DE, Tennessee State University, 1964-1967)
Willie “Wonderful Willie” Richardson (WR, Jackson State University, 1959-1962)
Johnny Sample (DB/RB, Maryland Eastern Shore, 1954-1958)
Rayfield “Big Cat” Wright (OL, Fort Valley State, 1963-1966)
Cleve Abbott (Head Coach, Tuskegee, 1923-1954)
Jackie Graves (Former NFL Scout, former director of personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles)

The Black College Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee is comprised of journalists, historians and former football executives from around the country. The committee includes Ernie Accorsi, Charles Bailey, Gil Brandt, Charles Garcia, Donald Hunt, Mike Hurd, Ty Miller, Roscoe Nance, Charlie Neal and Lloyd Vance.

In Bayou Classic’s storied rivalry, these six contests rank as the very best

Thirty-eight seasons in, which Bayou Classic games mattered the most? I’m talking turning-point moments. Not just because that particular day was (or wasn’t) a big win, but because it had a lasting impact. Leading up to Saturday’s Bayou Classic XXXVIII, here’s our take …

SIX: 1980

When Mike Williams walked off the Superdome carpet with the most valuable player award after the ’80 Bayou Classic, it marked the end of an era.

The Williams’ era.

A quarterback named Williams, either Mike or older brother Doug, had started for Grambling in every Classic until that point — and had won four of the seven MVPs ever given.

GSU had also gone 6-1 against Southern with a Williams under center, falling only in 1979. Five of the Top 6 best-attended games, including Nos. 1-4, occurred during this span, as well.

Doug Williams remembered the very first game, played at Tulane in 1974 while construction of the Superdome was completed: “I looked around and said: ‘What am I doing here?'” he told me in 2003. “We had 75,000 at a historically black college football game. I was a redshirt freshman, and scared to death. I was blessed to have some veterans around me and Coach Robinson ran a conservative offense that didn’t put too much pressure on me.”

Doug Williams would, of course, be named MVP in that game, as well as the third Bayou Classic in 1976. Mike Williams took over in 1978, and won the Classic MVP that season and in 1980.

(Grambling wingback Sammy White, a long-time assistant at his former school, was MVP in ’75, followed by GSU wingback Robert Woods in 1977. Southern quarterback Wilfred Charles was the 1979 honoree.)

FIVE: 1993

Rookie Southern coach Pete Richardson stormed into the SWAC — beating his first six league opponents by an average of 30 points. In fact, he’d only stumble once coming into the season-ending Bayou Classic, and that was against out-of-conference foe Nicholls State.

“I voted for him for Coach of the Year,” former GSU line coach Billy Manning said in 1993. “It’s hard to come in and turn a team around like that. … It all boils down to execution, motivation, technique and preparation. The talent has been there.”

Southern had already punched its ticket to the Heritage Bowl, after GSU fell to Alabama State three weeks before. Richardson then topped Eddie G. Robinson in the 1993 Bayou Classic 31-13 with sophomore quarterback Eric Randall as MVP.

A subsequent bowl win over South Carolina State meant the first-year coach, along with current Grambling defensive coordinator Clifford Yoshida, had led Southern to the school’s second 11-win season ever, its first SWAC title in 18 years and its first outright championship since 1959.

What followed was a stunning run of dominance for Southern, as Pete eventually took eight straight Classics — six from Robinson and two from Doug Williams, Rob’s eventual successor. He beat Grambling by an average of two touchdowns over that span.

Before Pete, Grambling actually held a 13-6 Classic series lead, and Southern had never won more than two in a row (1981-82 and 1987-88). By 2000, the Richardson had already won four SWAC titles (1993, then 1997-99) — and pulled ahead in the Classic series, 14-13.

It all started with that 1993 victory.

FOUR: 1990

In many ways, this Bayou Classic was somewhat routine, as Grambling won 25-13 — Eddie Robinson’s second in a row over Southern coach Gerald Kimble. GSU had, in 1990, won 12 of the initial 17 editions.

Only this time, 200 million people had the opportunity to experience the game — not to mention the halftime pageantry — through a new partnership deal with NBC TV.

Former Grambling sports information director Collie J. Nicholson’s dream — 12 years after his celebrated 30-year run at GSU ended — had finally been completely realized.

“When Eddie Robinson came to Grambling, people in Lincoln Parish didn’t even know where Grambling was,” Nicholson told me in 2003. “It took a long time to build name recognition for the school, during the time of segregation.”

This was a guy who used to type up the game stories, then drive 70 miles to Shreveport to wire them all over the country. Now, Nicholson’s game was being beamed into every home in America.

Grambling quarterback Shawn Burras was the 1990 Classic’s MVP, leading a unit that included SWAC offensive player of the year Walter Dean and future NFL receiver Jake Reed. Still, I think my favorite guy from this period is Raymond Smith, the 6-7, 435-pound offensive tackle who so richly earned the nickname: “World.”

Oddly enough, despite the addition of television coverage, the 1990 edition turned out to be the highest attended Classic since Southern beat Grambling 22-17 in 1982. The announced crowd of 70,600 was then No. 7 all time.

Nicholson, who was recognized with the Bayou Classic Founder’s Award two seasons later, passed in 2006 after experiencing a series of health problems. The press box at Robinson Stadium is named in his honor.

THREE: 1992

Coaching legends Eddie Robinson and Marino Casem — winners between them of 568 college contests — faced off again, producing another remarkable rivalry game.

And another razor-thin margin.

Three times, they roamed the sidelines at the Bayou Classic. The average margin of victory: 6 points.

In ’92, GSU won 30-27 before a sold-out crowd of 71,283, the year before Casem moved up to become Southern’s athletics director. It was the last time these two Southwestern Athletic Conference legends met on the field.

The Classic’s most valuable player was Grambling quarterback Alex Perkins, who would then help craft a 45-15 win over Florida A&M in the Heritage Bowl to win the ’92 black college national championship — the final under Robinson.

This would be the only time Robinson got the better of Casem in New Orleans. Southern beat Grambling by a touchdown in both 1987 and ’88. (Southern’s Daryl Garner and Chris Scott, respectively, were named MVPs.)

In all, 182,516 people saw these titanic struggles, which led to one of the most famous descriptions of this game from Casem — who called it “the biggest and best thing in all of blackdom.”

Known as The Godfather of the SWAC, Casem served as coach and athletics director at both Southern, Alcorn and, for one season early in his coaching career, at Alabama State.

That run included seven football titles at Alcorn, where he set a school record for wins. (Though the two played to a virtual draw over Casem’s first decade at Alcorn, Rob eventually established a 13-8 advantage). Casem oversaw another four SWAC championships as AD at Southern, then had another brief tenure in the same position at Alcorn before retiring.

Both Robinson and Casem, who finished with a coaching record of 160-91-8, are now members of the College Football Hall of Fame.

TWO: 1975

It’s not just that this game was the first to be played in the Superdome, which is reason enough.

The ’75 edition boasted more eventual NFL talent from Grambling than any Bayou Classic ever: Eight starters went on to play three or more years in the pros, and at least 15 were eventually invited to NFL camps.

“Grambling’s football tradition is second to none,” former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said in 1992. “Under Eddie Robinson’s leadership, Grambling contributed an unusually large number of players to the NFL.”

Wingback Sammy White (Vikings, 1976-86) took handoffs from quarterback Doug Williams (Buccaneers, 1978-83; and Redskins, 1986-89). A longtime receivers coach at Grambling, White was named the game’s most valuable player.

Williams also had Dwight Scales (Rams, 1976-79; Chargers, 1981-83; and Seahawks, 1984) as a top target. Big Ron Singleton (Chargers, 1976; and Niners, 1977-80) would play both tight end and offensive tackle.

The group scored 33 points that year on Charlie Bates’ Southern Jaguars, thrilling a crowd of 73,214 at the Dome.

Defensive back James Hunter (Lions, 1976-82) and linebacker Robert Pennywell (Niners, 1976; and Falcons, 1977-80) led a unit that held Southern to 17 points. The defensive line was anchored by Robert Barber (Packers, 1976-80) and Michael St. Claire (Browns, 1976-79; and Bengals, 1980-82).

Others from this amazingly talented Tiger team who appeared on NFL rosters included offensive tackle Larry Favorite (Falcons); defensive end Arthur Gilliam (Broncos); defensive tackle Jessie O’Neal (Oilers, Seahawks and Redskins); offensive lineman Robert Simon (Oilers); defensive backs Eugene Williams (Jets) and Michael Harris (Eagles, Jets and Steelers); and center Billy Manning (Saints) — who later became an assistant under Robinson.

The Bayou Classic would be played another 29 times at the Superdome before Hurricane Katrina rendered the facility unplayable in 2005. After a one-year hiatus at Houston’s Reliant Stadium, the contest returned home in ’06.

ONE: 1997

There would be no stopping Southern’s Pete Richardson, then in the midst of eight years of domination in New Orleans.

Nevertheless, Eddie G. Robinson’s final game, after 57 seasons at Grambling, provided the proper send off to college football’s winningest coach.

The NBC broadcast included several features chronicling his storied career. Tributes flowed in from then President Bill Clinton (in a phone call pictured above), fellow coaches like Penn State’s Joe Paterno and a bevy of former players.

More than 300 media credentials were issued, and they quickly scattered out to interview the likes of Willie Davis, Charles “Tank” Smith, Elfrid Payton, Henry Dyer, Mike Williams, James Hunter, and others.

The build up threatened to subsume the Bayou Classic itself.

Of course, Robinson took it all in stride: “I’m really not trying to think of this game as my last,” he said in 1997. “It’s there in the back of my mind, but I’m really just trying to take this as just the next game we have to try to win.”

That didn’t happen, as Southern dispatched GSU, 30-7.

Even so, there were other numbers threading through the four-hour broadcast, staggering numbers — 408 wins in 587 games, 17 SWAC titles and 210 players in the NFL. Hundreds, if not thousands of young men, with a road map to life in the form of a college degree.

In carrying the game, NBC shared the story of Eddie Robinson with the world one final time.

The 1997 Classic was one instance — 2006, with the return to New Orleans, was another — when it seemed appropriate that the game turned into a sideshow.

Eddie Robinson’s towering achievements deserved no less.

Also considered: 2004 Bayou Classic, an upset win by Grambling’s Melvin Spears that sent Richardson into a tailspin. Then the reigning SWAC champion, the Jaguars went on to lose in the ’04 title match and didn’t manage a winning season again until 2007. … 1974 Bayou Classic, the first ever held. This game was played at Tulane Stadium while construction of the Superdome continued. … 2006 Bayou Classic, an emotional homecoming in New Orleans, a year after Hurricane Katrina.

James ‘Shack’ Harris’ legendary career was sparked by MLK’s dream

James “Shack” Harris (QB, Grambling State University, 1965-68) has been named to the Black College Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012.

He joins 10 others selected from a list of 35 finalists who had been determined earlier by the Black College Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee. Induction ceremonies will be held February 18, 2012 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis during the Priority Payment Systems third annual enshrinement ceremony.

Here’s a look back at James Harris, whose stellar career has already earned him induction into the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Louisiana Sports and Grambling Legends halls of fame …

James “Shack” Harris, the first African-American quarterback to start an NFL playoff game, was also the first to be named Pro Bowl MVP. In so doing, he helped pave the way for future stars like Doug Williams, the first black quarterback to start in, then win the Super Bowl — as well as countless others from Randall Cunningham and Warren Moon to Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick.

Harris wasn’t finished breaking new ground. As a front-office member, he helped craft a Super Bowl-winning roster for the Baltimore Ravens.

Harris, now a personnel executive with the resurgent Detroit Lions, always had big ideas — and he made every one of them that he could come true: “There aren’t many things you can do in this world for free,” Harris said. “But dreaming is free: So I decided to dream big.”

That ambition traces back to a key childhood moment. Harris was watching the Martin Luther King Jr. speech in August 1963 on television, looking for two local friends who had gone to Washington, D.C., to participate in the march, when he heard these immortal words: “I have a dream, that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

He decided to do what was then unthinkable for a black athlete: “I decided that day that I would play quarterback,” Harris said. “I realized what I was risking. But I decided that day.”

Most African-Americans were converted to defensive back or receiver. None, to that point, had ever been drafted or started at quarterback in the NFL. But with encouragement from family, high school coach Dorth Blade and Grambling coach Eddie G. Robinson, he realized his own dreams: Harris did both.

He started by leading Monroe, Louisiana’s Carroll High School to 39 consecutive wins. “That was the greatest team I ever played on,” Harris says, without hestitation. “If we were still playing, we’d still be undefeated.”

He didn’t come from money. “Growing up,” Harris said, “all I knew was hard-working parents in a hard-working city. We never traveled, never had a vacation. But I never thought I was poor. We had just enough.”

Harris said his excursions into the harsh realities of work for blacks in the 1960s strengthened his resolve: He had taken on temporary work in a nearby cottonfield, looking to earn some extra money. On the way out, he overheard his mother say: “I sure hope James can go to college.”

Harris says that back then, “I didn’t know what college meant.” But when he got to the fields, and took to working the cotton (“in rows that were from now on”), Harris was struck by a grim reality: “You could be doing this for the next 30 years. I went home and asked my mom to tell about this word ‘college’ again.”

Harris called the decision to play football for Robinson at Grambling “probably the greatest decision I ever made. Coach Robinson told me, in four years I would play quarterback in the NFL — and I believed him. And I believed in Martin Luther King’s words.”

Harris and the Tigers eventually won or shared the SWAC title in each of his four years in school, compiling a sterling 31-9-1 record. He set what was then a state collegiate record with 4,705 career passing yards at Grambling. Those exploits would earn Harris induction into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1999; the high school offensive player of the year award, given annually by his hometown newspaper, also is named for Harris.

Yet in the late 1960s, all of that meant little to pro football scouts. Robinson kept the young quarterback steadfast, even as he fell to the eighth round in the NFL draft for not agreeing to switch positions.

“I told coach it didn’t make any sense to go to the NFL and not play,” Harris said. “He told me something — and I think about it often, when I face troubled times. He said if I didn’t go to the NFL, it would be a long time before someone else could get there again.”

He accepted that challenge, learned to thrive on the expectations: “Never,” he said Robinson told him, “blame your failures on being black. We’ve got to face those challenges and prepare to be better.”

Harris finally was picked up by the Buffalo Bills in the late rounds of the 1969 NFL draft. He would go on to a groundbreaking career with the Bills, Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers, earning MVP honors at the Pro Bowl in 1975. Harris then left the playing field for a stint as an NFL scout, one that led eventually to a lengthy career in NFL front offices — with the Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars and now the Lions. He has been ranked as the 36th most influential African-American in sports by The Sporting News.


The other 2012 inductees into the Black College Football Hall of Fame …

Willie Brown (DB, Grambling State University, 1959-1963)
Harry Carson (DE, South Carolina State University, 1972-1975)
Eldridge Dickey (QB, Tennessee State University, 1964-1967)
Claude Humphrey (DE, Tennessee State University, 1964-1967)
Steve McNair (QB, Alcorn State University, 1991-1994)
Willie “Wonderful Willie” Richardson (WR, Jackson State University, 1959-1962)
Johnny Sample (DB/RB, Maryland Eastern Shore, 1954-1958)
Rayfield “Big Cat” Wright (OL, Fort Valley State, 1963-1966)
Cleve Abbott (Head Coach, Tuskegee, 1923-1954)
Jackie Graves (Former NFL Scout, former director of personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles)

The Black College Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee is comprised of journalists, historians and former football executives from around the country. The committee includes Ernie Accorsi, Charles Bailey, Gil Brandt, Charles Garcia, Donald Hunt, Mike Hurd, Ty Miller, Roscoe Nance, Charlie Neal and Lloyd Vance.

Book details rich history, lasting impact of Bayou Classic

Monroe, Louisiana-native Thomas Aiello explores the deeper meaning of the football rivalry between Grambling State and Southern in his book: Bayou Classic: The Grambling-Southern Football Rivalry. Paul J. Letlow, an occasional TDR correspondent, found it offered a rich history lesson behind the nationally televised game that brightens New Orleans annually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Here’s Letlow’s report:

Aiello takes readers back to a time when Grambling was known as Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute and Southern’s Bushmen dominated their northeastern Louisiana foe.

Like Aiello himself, the game has its roots in Monroe – the first contest in 1932 was played at Casino Park, home of the now defunct Monroe Monarchs Negro Southern League baseball team.

The modern Bayou Classic is housed in the Louisiana Superdome and serves as a magnet for celebrities, fans of both schools and a national audience that peers in through the NBC television cameras. Some say the Battle of the Bands is bigger than the game itself, but truthfully it’s all things intertwined that make the weekend a happening. Aiello gets that and his writing reflects an appreciation.

All the key figures are here in Aiello’s 328 pages, including immortal coaching legend Eddie G. Robinson, shown above with his family and former Southern coach Pete Richardson in a post-game Bayou Classic celebration.

“To appreciate the rivalry,” Robinson once said, “you have to realize Grambling and Southern fans are close friends, as well as relatives.”

Aiello added his personal observations after attending the 2008 Bayou Classic and came away with an even stronger understanding.

“The rivalry is heated,” he writes in the epilogue, “but it is gilded with the soft veneer of sportsmanship. As I left the stadium into a quiet New Orleans night, that sportsmanship was still there. Grambling fans and Southern fans nodded as they walked past each other on the ramps leading from the Superdome. They stopped and shook hands. As they had for the past 35 seasons of the Bayou Classic – for the past 76 seasons of the rivalry – they would be back next year.”

Aiello is an assistant professor of history at Valdosta State University. Bayou Classic: The Grambling-Southern Football Rivalry is available through the LSU Press Web site or major retailers.

Complete black college football polls, Week 12: Nobody is getting past Jackson State in SWAC

Jackson State remains the highest-ranking SWAC program, and it appears unlikely that any league team can pass the Tigers — even as a postseason from which they are banned looms.

JSU was runner up only to Norfolk State in the Heritage Sports Radio Network Black College Football FCS Poll, and the Dr. Cavil’s Black College Major Division Rankings. JSU is one spot behind Norfolk State, champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, in the Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25, as well.

Only Alabama State, Grambling and Southern have regular-season games remaining in the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Alabama State is the higher ranked of those remaining contenders, but is facing Division II Tuskegee; a win there is unlikely to leap-frog the Hornets over Jackson State. If Grambling were to best Southern this week, it would afford the Tigers a trip to the SWAC Championship Game — and, thus, two more games to move up the charts. But Grambling, which is sitting in the bottom end of the Top 10 rankings, appears to far back in the polling to get past Jackson.

Lurking in the weeds is Alabama A&M, who must wait for the outcome of the Grambling-Southern game to find out who it will play in the SWAC Championship Game on Dec. 10. They might just be the only credible challenger. The Bulldogs are ranked as high as No. 4 this week, within striking distance, but must win in Birmingham, Ala., for momentum. That’s easier said than done: Alabama A&M has advanced to five of the 12 previous league title matches (second only to Grambling for total trips), but has claimed just one victory — in 2006.

Jackson State was tops among SWAC programs at No. 4 in the Sheridan Broadcasting Network Black College Football Poll, too. That list, which also includes lower-division programs, again had Winston-Salem State at No. 1.

Here’s a complete look at black-college polls for Week 12 …

SHERIDAN BROADCASTING NETWORK BLACK COLLEGE POLL
Team, (first-place votes), record, points, previous rank
1. Winston-Salem State: (20), 11-0, 262, 1
2. Bethune-Cookman: (6), 8-3, 251, 2
3. Norfolk State: (4), 9-2, 199, 3
4. Jackson State: 9-2, 172, 4
5. South Carolina State: 7-4, 143, 6
6. Alabama A&M: 8-3, 96, 7
7. Alabama State: 7-3, 82, 8
8. Grambling State: 6-4, 73, 10
9. Florida A&M: 7-4, 47, 5
10. Hampton: 7-4, 36, NR
Others receiving votes: Morehouse 29, Miles College 27, Albany State 20, North Carolina A&T 17, Elizabeth City State 12.

HERITAGE SPORTS RADIO NETWORK BLACK COLLEGE POLL
Team, (first-place votes), record, points, previous rank
1. Norfolk State: (22), 9-2, 220, 1
2. Jackson State: 9-2, 198, 2
3. Alabama A&M: 8-3, 165, 4
4. Bethune-Cookman: 8-3, 162, 6
5. Alabama State: 7-3, 124, 5
6. South Carolina State: 7-4, 103, 7
7. Florida A&M: 7-4, 98, 3
8. Hampton: 7-4, 66, 9
9. Grambling State: 6-4, 40, 10
10. Arkansas-Pine Bluff: 6-5, 24, NR
Others receiving votes: None.

DR. CAVIL’S BLACK COLLEGE MAJOR DIVISION RANKINGS
Name, (record), first-place votes, points, previous week, last week and next week opponent
1. Norfolk State: (9-2), (8), 104, 1 (Did not play, NCAA DI FCS Playoffs)
2. Jackson State: (9-2), (4), 96, 2 (Beat Alcorn State 51-7, Season complete)
3. Bethune-Cookman: (8-3), (1), 85, 4 (Beat Florida A&M 26-16, Season complete)
4. Alabama A&M: (8-3), 83, 5 (Beat Prairie View A&M 17-15, Open)
5. Alabama State: (7-3), 68, 6 (Did not play, vs. DII Tuskegee)
6. South Carolina State: (7-4), 56, 7 (Beat Savannah State 20-10, Season complete)
7. Hampton: (7-4), 41, 9 (Beat Morgan State 42-18, Season complete)
8. Florida A&M: (7-4), 33, 3 (Lost to Bethune-Cookman 26-16, Season complete)
9. Grambling State: (6-4), 17, 8 (Did not play, vs. Southern)
10. Arkansas-Pine Bluff: (6-5), 15, NR (Beat Texas Southern 42-6, Open)
Dropped Out: Prairie View A&M (5-6). Also receiving votes: Prairie View A&M (5-6) 5, Howard (5-6) 4, Tennessee State (5-6) 3, Morgan State (5-6) 1.

THE SPORTS NETWORK/FATHEAD.COM FCS TOP 25
Team, (first-place votes), record, points, previous rank
19. Norfolk State: 9-2, 958, 20
20. Jackson State: 9-2, 778, 21
Others receiving votes: Furman 197, San Diego 124, Eastern Kentucky 106, Bethune-Cookman 96, Alabama State 72, Drake 57, Albany 55, Duquesne 52, South Dakota 52, Portland State 28, William & Mary 25, Cal Poly 20, Georgetown 20, Indiana State 19, Southern Utah 19, Murray State 18, Eastern Washington 16, Chattanooga 14, South Carolina State 11, Brown 5, Alabama A&M 4, Grambling State 3, Stephen F. Austin 3, Youngstown State 1.

ANYGIVENSATURDAY.COM TOP 25 for Week 12
Rank, team, total votes, first-place votes
19. Norfolk State: 506
24. Jackson State: 152
Also receiving votes: 32T. Bethune-Cookman, 44.

FCS Now did not have a Week 12 poll; Urban Sports News did not submit a poll this week.