Naming Tony Lamarr as head b-ball coach at CAU a wise choice
Provided the decision-makers at Clark-Atlanta University never make another wise choice, their decision to take the interim off basketball coach Tony Lamarr was worthly of applause. I was convinced that the Stone Mountain Georgia native was the Panthers’ next head coach when he and the fives went on a 9-1 winning frenzy between January 11 and February 6 of this year. Now that Tony has been given the mantle to lead, let’s see what heights he can take the school to…..Lamarr
Some of you readers, me notwithstanding, have wondered why the honchos at the SIAC decided to take their championship grid match to Montgomery, Alabama, which for years was referred to as the “cradle of the confederacy” and hosted the annual Blue-Gray College All –Star game from 1939 to 2001. For many of those years black faces were absent because that’s the way the games’ principle organizer, the Lions Club, wanted it. What’s the connection to the SIAC and the ‘Bama capital aside from its close proximity to the hallowed halls of Tuskegee University about 30 miles to the south and perhaps the fact that Alabama State was once a member of the SIAC until it left in 1982 when it elevated its program to Division I and joined the SWAC?
Here’s my thinking about the move.
Montgomery and Birmingham to its northwest have been clamoring to attract more sporting events to their towns. They, no doubt, were aware that the SIAC was disappointed with the lack of support the city of Atlanta offered both their basketball tourney and their football championship which accounts for why they pulled up stakes, returned the hoop tourney to the “Ham” and then floated rumors that the grid game would soon grow wings as well. I’m still not sure if the move will mean more fans to the three year old contest, but with three of the conference’s eleven football playing schools domiciled in the banjo state (Miles, Tuskegee, Stillman), they have as much of a chance as they did in Atlanta. So, you and I may ask why but perhaps SIAC Commish Greg Moore and his staff responded with, why not?
-0- Merchant INSIDE offers belated condolences to the family of Dr. Frank Merchant. Although he was on the staff at Fayetteville State University when he succumbed last year, he spent many years as the defensive coordinator and physical education teacher at Morehouse College in the mid to late 1960s and early 70s. For a season, he served as head football coach. Many of his former defensive players at Morehouse were discussing him a few weeks ago. I had learned through the street committee that the hard nosed coach and former pro football player (the New York Titans of the American Football League) had died but didn’t confirm it myself until several weeks later thanks to the sports information staff at Fayetteville. Frank, you were sandpaper tough on your players and your students in PE (I know, I was one of them in 1968) but the guys loved you for it. RIP.
Benedict College, under James Woody, will open the 101st football season of the SIAC Saturday, August 30th at home against Buddy Pough’s big “Dawgs” of South Carolina State. The Palmetto Classic kicks off at 5pm. I am excited about the 2014 slate and have several players I want to watch closely. One is Clark-AU running back Montavious Taylor. In his freshman season last year, the Atlanta native was the SIAC’s second leading rusher with with 681 yards and seven touchdowns. I will also keep a close watch on Albany State quarterback Frank Rivers, the former Grambling passer, who last year finished second in conference passing with 1898 yards and 18 touchdowns. Another CAU panther I will be putting the binos on is senior linebacker Bre’Nard Williams. Last year, Williams broke into the top 25 national NCAA Division II rankings with 105 tackles but finished atop the conference stats with 93 total tackles, 60 of them solo shots…Rivers
…Meanwhile Morehouse senior running back Shelton Hamilton says he would love to see the Marooners represent the conference’s eastern division at this year’s SIAC championship in Montgomery because, among other things, he is a native of Montgomery. Plagued with injuries the first three years of his college career, he says he is reporting to camp this season 100%..........
XTRA POINTS: An Atlanta group calling themselves the Atlanta Retired Athletes recently honored the city’s first six African American high school athletic directors . The six, who piloted the ATL’s six black high schools during the period of segregation , were Raymond “Tweet”Williams (Clark-AU), LC Baker (Clark-AU), Alexander Shepherd (Morris Brown), John Merkerson (Morris Brown), Raymond Wainwright (Clark-AU), and T. Herman Graves (Morehouse). Baker, considered the “granddaddy” of them all, coached at Atlanta’s Booker T Washington High from 1931 to 1967 and wound up coaching two of the six honorees. A video was also produced of the athletic exploits of the honorees which brought the more than 400 family and friends attending the luncheon August 9th to their feet with shouts, claps and tears of joy. A plaque honoring the sextet will soon grace the walls of the Atlanta school board and the Atlanta City Council’s chambers…..
There are two new sports information directors within the bosom of the conference. Former Grambling assistant LaMonica Scott is now SID at Tuskegee . Zena Lewis, a former assistant at Clark-AU is now running the media show for the SIAC………
1st Round Draft pick was touched by former HBCU, NFL Gridder
ATLANTA- Even though only two players from historically black colleges were selected in the 2014 NFL draft, at least one first round pick from Florida State was touched by the hand of HBCU graduate and former NFL player from Morris Brown College.Blackmon
Roosevelt Blackmon, playfully called “Tadpole” by alumni, fellow classmates and players, was a 4th round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers during the 1998 draft. He played for the Packers and eventually the Cincinnati Bengals before stepping away from the league and returning to his hometown of Belle Glade Florida. In 2005, he joined the coaching staff of the city’s Glade Central High School at or around the same time wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin had arrived as a freshman and ultimately became one of the school’s best wide receivers. Blackmon worked as an assistant coach and athletic director at Glades Central until named head coach in 2010, which should have been during Benjamin’s senior year. I have to think “Tadpole” probably had some direct or indirect influence on that youngster’s playing ability. The point? No matter how others count us (HBCUs) out, we are In there pitching somehow!!
It might interest you to know that among those on the short list of candidates for the former head coaching vacancy at Mississippi Valley State was current Morehouse head grid coach Richard Freeman. I’d like to think that Freeman’s name was likely advanced by the school’s new president Dr. William Bynum, who served as a vice president at Morehouse College from 2009-2013 and was mentored by the college’s former president Robert Franklin. The job was instead handed to former Jackson state head coach Rick Comegy (Comegy also coached in the SIAC at Tuskegee).Weston
Clark-AU’s second year head football coach Kevin Weston is pleased as punch that six of his 10 games this coming grid season will be at home. Most of his 2013 team which was predominately freshman is returning with a sprinkle of juniors and seniors. Returnees to watch for include quarterback Trenton Earl, second team all conference running back Montavious Taylor and first team all conference junior linebacker Bre’nard Williams. The Panther elevens are scheduled to open September 6 on the road against Central State…….CAU no longer needs to continue the search for a head basketball coach. They already have their candidate in interim coach Tony Lamarr. He took a team practically in shambles after the 2012-13 season and led them to a winning 15-12 season which included a 10-7 mark in the SIAC….The school is still in the hunt for an athletic director. Any takers? Contact the school………Ismsr
Meanwhile, Morehouse head man Richard Freeman says overall he was pleased with the Maroon Tiger spring drills. Though some of his players were sidelined principally because of the school’s strict academic policies, he said it did give him and his staff a chance to see more of those who were allowed on the grid and especially at the skill spots. He is returning three quarterbacks and seems especially impressed with sophomore Montvavious Johnson of Decatur Georgia. Although the school hadn’t planned to play him until this year, injuries to other signal callers forced Freeman to send him in prematurely, a decision he says he doesn’t regret. “He started in the Lane game,” Freeman told INSIDE. And since then, he hasn’t looked back.” He is also happy to get running back Shelton Hamilton back after an injury last year left the Montgomery, Alabama native sidelined for most of 2013. “He’s told me this year he’s 100% and ready to roll,” said Freeman. “The last two losing seasons we’ve had was a wake up call for all of us, coaches, staff and players,“ he added. “We got a bit soft with all those previous winning seasons. We are ready again.” Meanwhile, Freeman has added former Concordia College head coach Shepherd SkanesSkanes as the team’s running backs coach…..Morehouse's 2014 schedule will be a challenging one. The Marooners ' first six games will be roaders. In fact, The hometowners won't get a glimpse of the elevens until homecoming October 18 against Albany Statte....Freeman
The SIAC will once more rule the roost at the annual grid “do” the Circle City Classic in Indianapolis. The “Breds” of Kentucky State will throw down against the Marauders of Central State, new coach and all, October 4th…………
XTRA POINTS: I understand that former Alabama A&M head coach Anthony Jones is now an assistant at the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff……Where is former North Carolina Central head man Henry Frazier?.......Former Lincoln University (Missouri) head coach Jack Bush has rejoined ex- boss Rick Comegy at Mississippi Valley State ……If you come to Atlanta this grid season (or for that matter any time) let me recommend the TGI Friday restaurant in the Camp Creek Marketplace shopping center. The food is great and reasonable, the atmosphere is fantastic and the service is excellent. It is also black owned by the family of former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson (Morehouse College)……..
Big Break for Former Morehouse Assistant Grid Coach
Patience, hard work and the ability to put one’s nose to the grindstone can pay off big time and that is what happened for ex-Morehouse offensive line coach Brian Braswell. The Atlanta native (East Point) and former lineman at both Benjamin Banneker High and Hampton University has been hired to join the staff of Cincinatti Bengal Head coach Marvin Lewis as an assistant offensive line/quality control coach.
BraswellBraswell caught the attention of Lewis last spring and during training camp as he participated in the Bill Walsh Minority Internship Coaching program. At Morehouse, he wore a number of hats as offensive line coach under defensive coordinator George Copeland (Tennessee State), as run game coordinator, coach for the field goal and extra point teams and developer of strength programs. “ Brian is an energetic guy who finds ways to contribute and we’re happy to add him on for 2014,” Lewis said in a statement. “We’re impressed with the work he put in for us in the offseason and camp last year.”
Former Morris Brown athletic trainer Walter Smith is getting a crack at the silver screen. He is playing the role of a bow-tie wearing referee in a film about Muhammad Ali called “The Final Punch”. Smith, an Atlanta native told INSIDE his selection was accidental. He was taking his grandson to movie tryouts at a Shriner’s Temple in northeast Atlanta when approached by staff about taking the role of referee in the flick.” I refused about three times but they kept bugging me about it because the turnout for tryouts had been poor due to weather. I finally gave in and took the part.” Smith, one of the country’s most sought-after trainers, which he has done since the age of 13, has been in a similar role with the Georgia Tech baseball team for the last 29 years. For that devoted service, the school named one of its athletic buildings for him…….
James “Cannonball” Butler, a one time sensational running back for the Atlanta Falcons, was laid to rest late last month in Boynton Beach, Florida. Butler came to Atlanta in 1967 after spending three years with the Pittsburgh Steelers as their 15th round pick in 1963. He graduated from Edward Waters College in Jacksonville Florida, and was cited by the school as one of its “most decorated athletes.” His number 24 at EWC is the only jersey retired. He spent four years in Atlanta from 1968 to 1972. Although most remember him for his fullback-like roughness with the oval, he is also remembered by many Atlantans as the owner of a popular nightspot called 200 South in southwest Atlanta. His relatives said EWC and his frat, Omega Psi Phi were among the closest to his heart.Butler
The same year Butler came to the Falcons in 1968, the team made former Tennessee State great Claude Humphrey their first round draft pick and the third player selected in that year’s draft overall. In 1976 through 1978, I produced the Claude Humphrey Radio Show for station WAOK-AM and we became close friends. So it was with pride that this year, I watched the NFL finally see fit to induct the brother into the Hall of Fame. There are two people I wish Claude’s close friend, former Falcon tight end Jim Mitchell (Prairie View) and his wife/cheerleader Sandra could have been around to see this triumph. Humphrey joins Richard Dent as the second “Big Blue Tiger” elected to the Hall. Ceremonies are slated for August 2 in Canton Ohio. I wonder who will Claude select to introduce him?Humphey at Tennessee State TSU Photo
XTRA POINTS; INSIDE has learned that the Atlanta Xplosion women’s tackle football team has changed leagues.They are now part of the Omaha Nebraska based Women’s Spring Football League. The switch was confirmed to INSIDE by league CEO Randall Fields. “Atlanta has four women’s tackle teams and two of them , the Xplosion and the Atlanta Heartbreakers are members of our league,” he said in a phone interview from Omaha. “The Xplosion joined us about two months ago.” He said there is also a possibility that the league championship for 2014 might be held in Atlanta. It appears the fourth women’s team in Atlanta is the Atlanta Rage said to have been created by former Xplosion longtime general manager-owner Mashonda Gilmore.
……Meanwhile, Atlanta’s other team , the Phoenix, say their tweaks during the off-season have developed them into 50 dedicated souls to the team and the sport. Last year, the Phoenix was 8-0 in the regular season and 2-1 in post season play. Somehow, after two tough playoff games last year against Tampa Bay and Miami, they went into third round play against the Chicago Force on the road and got creamed 84-0. How could that happen against a team that only allowed regular season opponents an average 7.2 points a ballgame?
They (Chicago) threw some ringers in on us at the last minute,” said General Manager and part-owner April Christler. She protested to the honchos of the Women Football Association she told us the league promised to invoke rules against last minute “roster adds”. The team meanwhile has changed home fields to Campbell High school in Smyrna Georgia and will began with a pre-season contest against the (Washington) DC Divas March 22 before their official season begins April 5th against Tampa…..
I nearly forget to render applause to the 2013 Atlanta Metropolitan College men’s basketball program. Among the more than 1000 two year colleges that sponsor field basketball teams in the USA, AMC’s 2013 hoop program was the nation’s 5th best All- Academic teams. Mind you, only five teams were picked from around the nation! Their head coach is Robert Pritchett (Albany State), AMC s first and only head coach since the school began playing b-ball in the early 1990s.
First Gobble Day game between Ala.State-Stillman draws 14,396
NEW ORLEANS, La- 14,000-plus flocked to the 90th Turkey Day classic in Montgomery, Alabama and introduced a new team to the annual football “do.” Those who travelled across state from Tuscaloosa, the hard-core Hornets who would show up regardless the opponent and the curious who wanted to get a peak at the elevens and the new state-of-the-art ASU stadium saw a pretty good game . Alabama State prevailed 41-28 to start a new chapter in the history of this game. Will it last the 89 years of the Tuskegee-Hornet contest? Will Stillman eventually decide to bow out to qualify for NCAA playoff action? Only time will tell that……..
SIAC SUPERLATIVES FOR 2013- The SIAC’s all conference team has been unwrapped for 2013 and the selections didn’t come as much of a surprise. BurroughsThree of the conference’s 11 football playing teams had three players selected to the first team. Probably for the first time in memory, Lane College joined the list of multi-superlatives which also included the player of the year, Chris Rini. I do take issue with the selection committee’s failure to name Lane’s Derrick Burroughs as coach of the year and this is with all due respect to selectee Reggie "Ruff” Ruffin, who is a brilliant coach. But Burroughs, an one time assistant under former Stillman coach Greg Thompson, took over a team that was once everybody’s preferred homecoming opponent and lifted them to their first winning season (6-4) since 2007 . The also finished third in the SIAC’s tough western division. One decision the committee made that was a damn good one was naming CAU freshman TaylorMontavious Taylor the freshman player of the year. The native Atlantan was second in conference rushing with 671 yards, averaging 75 yards per game. Check out the rest of the best at www.thesiac.com......
BAYOU AT 40- ‘Ole Southern University captured their second consecutive Bayou Classic football victory 40-17 over poor Grambling who mercifully ended their 1-11 season which aside last year’s equally abysmal 1-10, were the two worst one win seasons ever since 1945. Despite the loss, Grambling quarterback Johnathan Williams accounted well for himself, throwing for 120 yards and tossing two touchdowns. Williams started in the last two Grambling games, replacing DJ Williams who played the last few minutes of the fourth period. “ I was glad for the opportunity and got in there to win.” , he told INSIDE HOTLANTA. Although the Tigers played a poor first half, they improved some in the second, scoring twice, once in the third period and again at the beginning of the fourth period. Williams was his own worst critic. “ I didn’t play well,” said the QB of few words. “ I played a bad game.” Southern’s Southern celebrates Bayou Classic victory Dray Joseph, meanwhile, was grinning like a cheshire cat following the win. He should have been. Joseph, playing in his final regular season game, threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns. Like Williams, he too was his harshest critic. “I give my performance (in Bayou 40) between a B plus and B minus, “ he told INSIDE, “ JosephI threw a few bad passes, some too short, others too long. I know I am going to have to play much, much better against Jackson State (December 7, Houston Texas).” Joseph has survived three coaches at Southern and some lean years but he says “it’s a process.” “Coach (Dawson) Odums took over for coach (Stump) Mitchell and he came in emphasizing discipline and accountability. It worked.”
Meanwhile, there is no word as of the posting of this column about the future fate of Grambling interim coach Dirk Winston, who took over after former head coach Doug Williams and interim George Ragsdale were fired.
SIGN OF THINGS TO COME: Paine College head coach Greg Ruffin’s Lion elevens showed themselves well as a club football team this season. They wound up beating three of their four opponents. They will play a full SIAC schedule in 2014 and any conference or other team who schedules them as possibly an easy homecoming opponent better think again.Ruffin
XTRA POINTS: The 47,000 –plus at this year’s 40th Bayou Classic was surprising to some, considering many Jaguar hard-cores I talked to said they expected the bulk of their fans to sit it out and save their green for Houston this weekend at the SWAC championship game against Jackson State. Actually, considering Grambling’s dismal 2013 record and its twin from 2012, I really expected to see only a smattering of Tiger fans at the game. I was pleased to see quite a few sporting their Grambling garb……….The Jackson State-Southern match for the SWAC title will feature two coaches who formally piloted teams in the SIAC. Rick Comegy was head coach at Tuskegee for many years and Dawson Odums piloted Clark-Atlanta University in the part of this century….My wife’s hometown of Hammond Louisiana is dying for a good soul food restaurant. Any enterprising soul might look into it. You’d die a millionaire !!!!!..DID YOU KNOW that former Norfolk State President Harrison Wilson ( 1976-1997) is the grandfather of poker-hot Seattle Seahawk quarterback Russell Wilson. No wonder the brother is so bad……