Mose Rison, who succeeded current Grambling coach Rod Broadway at North Carolina Central, oversaw the first tentative steps in the program’s steep climb from Division II to the championship subdivision.
Fired after a three seasons, he won’t be there when that journey is completed. Assistant Darryl Bullock will serve as interim at NCCU for the rest of this year.
In the midst of a difficult move up into the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, North Carolina Central went 4-7 twice, and began this year 2-4 before Risen was replaced — the first time the program has switched coaches in midseason since 1977.
The Eagles are coming off a 20-17 overtime loss on Saturday to Georgia State. Their lone victories so far this year have come against lower-division Johnson C. Smith and winless North Carolina A&T.
Still, some fans wondered, how does a staff change make this team better right now? Does any coach win through this transition, anyway?
“I thought we were moving in the right direction,” Rison said. “I thought next year would be the critical year for us as we moved all the way into the MEAC. I never thought wins and losses were the measuring stick for this season.”
NCCU athletics director Ingrid Wicker-McCree said she wants to have a new coach hired by January.
“While we appreciate the passion and commitment that Coach Rison has shown, we feel at this time that a change in the leadership and command of our football program is needed,” Wicker-McCree said. “As we have moved through the Division I transition process, we have established high expectations for our football program to become one of the best in the MEAC. However, we must continue to improve in all aspects of the football program in order to reach those aspirations.”
Rison was hired in 2006 as North Carolina Central’s offensive coordinator by Rod Broadway. He became the program’s 19th head coach a season later. NCCU went 6-4 that year, its last in Division II before departing the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association — where Broadway had claimed two conference championships and gone 29-4 over his final three seasons — for more difficult independent schedules in a bid for membership in the MEAC. That came in 2009.
The issue with that ambition, of course, is money. Tiny NCCU doesn’t have much, leading to conditions that could hardly be called Division I. Coaches are having to write personal checks to cover expenses on the road, Rison said. Back home, they are piled up four to a room, a number of them without their own computers.
Some of these problems will be addressed through an ongoing stadium expansion, but that comes too late for Rison.
“We wanted to be Division I, but we were still running on a Division II budget,” Rison lamented. “It made it very tough.”
Rison, who has one year left on his contract, has been reassigned elsewhere in the athletics department.
The first assignment for Bullock, who’s in his fourth season as assistant head coach and offensive line coach at North Carolina Central, is an unenviable one: Undefeated MEAC frontrunner Bethune-Cookman will be on campus for a 2 p.m. game on Saturday.