South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough, who’s led his team to consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles and then tosoaring poll numbers this year, is quick to give credit where it’s due: Mentor and program-builder Willie Jeffries.
Last spring, the school named Jeffries head coach emeritus, meaning his fingerprints can still be found on SC State’s blueprints for success. Pough, an offensive lineman for Jeffries on teams that went 16-1 over the 1974-75 seasons, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It was great playing for him,” Pough said told Donald Hunt of ESPN. “He’s done a lot for the game. I’m glad he’s still around.”
Jeffries earned induction in the College Hall of Fame earlier this year, recognition for 19 years at South Carolina State and a record of 128-77-4. Jeffries also coached at Howard, and was the first African-American to become a head coach at a FBS-level school when he was hired by Wichita State in 1979.
A highlight of Jeffries’ tenure at South Carolina State was his first-ever black college national championship in 1976. The Bulldogs followed that up with another title in 1980. Both teams will be honored with a special ring ceremony set for tonight in Santee, S.C.
The event was spearheaded by former South Carolina State standout wide receiver Charlie Brown, later a member of the Washington Redskins’ Super Bowl-era teams. The two title-winning Bulldog squads sent a combined 44 players to NFL camps, and they appeared in a total of five Super Bowls.
South Carolina State plays host to Norfolk State at 2 p.m. Saturday in MEAC action.