This Game Is A Big DealBy Craig R. Turner
Published: November 9, 2012
South Carolina State is coming into town this Saturday afternoon and folks believe me this game is one big deal in the massive rebuilding project that has been A&T football.
When Coach Rod Broadway came on to the scene a little less than two ago, the A&T football program was in complete shambles. Ten consecutive years of losing football, three coaching changes, constant player defections, failing APR statistics, grossly underfunded in terms of scholarships, and NCAA academic probation for at least two years.
Broadway took a huge gamble in leaving a then very strong Grambling program, a couple of SWAC championships under his belt, and could have easily stayed on which he did at first but less than a week later he changed his mind after being initially offered the job by Athletic Director Earl Hilton.
Let’s be honest here about Broadway. Any other coach with his experience, his resume, and reputation for building and sustaining championship programs would have probably laughed like crazy if a program as tattered as A&T had come a calling. But Rod Broadway is not just any other coach. He seemingly not only thrives on challenges but goes looking for one.
Sure, he often mentions taking the A&T post was a chance for him to come back to the state where he was born and raised, where he had a stellar playing career at UNC, to be just within a short 45 minute ride down I-85 from his hometown and his kids and grandchildren almost next door.
All those were uniquely important factors in his making the move to Greensboro.
But there was an even equally important factor for him that persuaded him to here. What he saw was the potential that lay just under the surface in Greensboro.
He looked not so much at the abysmal brand of football that was being played but rather at the larger picture. He looked hard at the fellows who hired him.
To begin with, he had to his advantage a focused aggressive new chancellor to back him, a new strong athletic director who has vision of what A&T athletics can and should be and is in tune to the economic and business side of Division One athletics who would step back out of the way and allow him the latitude to do what he would have to do to right the ship.
He will never admit it or say it himslf but his ambition is to establish his coaching legacy by building A&T from one of the worst football programs in the last decade into the strongest program in the MEAC that wins championships regulary and become a major factor in playoffs. A tall order indeed but it is also very conceivable.
N.C. A&T has one of the better football venues in the FCS, and a large and vocal alumni and rabid fan base that never deserted their team, either in financial support or enthusiasm even in midst of the worst of times during a 27 straight game losing streak.
He knew he would inherent only a small group of student athletes who wanted to win badly but who had been drowning in a sea of coaching changes every two years or so, kids who inattentiveness to their school work that cost them by struggling to stay in school, and yes there were broken promises and double talk from those who were supposedly leading them.
What Broadway has been working with all the APR penalties is something akin to having your hands tied behind your back trying to push a boulder up a 90-degree mountain. The biggest challenge was less about player numbers but about getting his players changing the culture of the mind from losing to winning.
What has now happened since Broadway’s arrival has been the expectation that A&T is not only going to be competitive each game but there is the expectation that if we perform and continue to improve we can now win.
He got his players to believe, not necessarily in him but in themselves, that they could better if they worked hard and stayed on a charted course laid out for them. It has taken root.
This coming Saturday A&T can have its first winning season since 2003 and chance to finish out the season really strong. That in itself may not seem like much of a big deal for some places but given what our history has been for a decade it would be a milestone.
To paraphrase Vice President Joe Biden on the passage of national health care – “ This is a big f**king deal.”
So, before any of us arm chair quarterbacks begin to to nitpick about this team doesn’t look good, stats aren’t impressive enough, or we need to change this or that, second guess every coaching move or game plan just shut up for a minute and stop for a moment and take stock of where we were just 24 months ago and how far we come to where we are now.
One can now imagine the possibilities of what will soon coming done the road when these sanctions are finally lifted next season if we stay on the track academically. A win over SCSU will go a long way in validating this staff, the program’s progress, and the investment that Harold Martin made 19 months ago.
Not too shabby all thing things considered, not bad at all.
A&T has not beaten SCSU in 12 years. That is a very long time. The Bulldogs are having a not too traditional Bulldog year but they remain a very solid and talented football team.
It will be final home game for 20 seniors who have never tasted a winning season and if you think A&T will be sky high would be vast understatement.
I think you will see an A&T team will come out with a fire in the belly especially in the final home of the season and the chance to go 6-4, move above the .500 mark within the MEAC despite being the shy scholarship numbers as compared to every opponent they have faced this season.
It won’t be easy against a rested a Buddy Pough coached team but I expect the Aggies to be very strong this week , on both sides of the ball.
N. C. A&T – 28
SCSU – 9
P.S. – Oh yeah, one other thing.
The Electorial College Scoreboard
President Obama – 325
Math is such a wonderful thing.