Florida A&M begins again after deflating end to the 2010 campaign

Florida A&M begins its 2010 preseason on Monday, Aug. 8 as players report for training camp. It likely can’t get here fast enough for a program that saw 2010 conclude on a bitter note.

The Rattlers were last seen blasting past in-state MEAC rival Bethune-Cookman behind running back Philip Sylvester, who ran for 144 yards and three touchdowns as FAMU rattled off 24 unanswered points to win 38-27. Sylvester broke through for his sixth consecutive 100-yard day.

It was Bethune’s first defeat of 2010, snapping a sterling 10-game winning streak for first-year coach Brian Jenkins — and it gave FAMU a share of the 2010 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title.

What it didn’t give Florida A&M: A berth in the FCS postseason.

A point system was used by the conference, since the football standings actually ended in a three-way tie between Florida A&M, Bethune-Cookman and South Carolina State. Each team finished with an identical 7-1 MEAC record. But FAMU had lost to South Carolina State 19-0 in Week 5, while Bethune-Cookman stunned then then-undefeated Bulldogs 14-0 a few weeks later. So, Bethune-Cookman earned the MEAC’s automatic bid, and South Carolina State — participants in each of the last two championship subdivision playoffs — earned a coveted at-large berth.

Florida A&M has now won three straight Florida Classic games. That season-ending victory meant Rattlers coach Joe Taylor became the fastest in program history to win 25 games, doing it in just three seasons.

Cold comfort, if you ask Taylor.

“In my mind we deserve to be in there,” Taylor said after the Bethune victory last year. “South Carolina State beat us. Bethune beat South Carolina. We beat Bethune. To me, it should be obvious that we should be in the playoffs.”

His team is projected to finish third in the MEAC this season, though the Rattlers had five first-place votes.

PRO PROSPECT OUT FOR SEASON: Rookie cornerback Curtis Holcomb, a seventh-round draft pick from Florida A&M, sustained a ruptured left Achilles tendon during a conditioning test Thursday. The San Francisco 49ers say he is out for the season.

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