Jerry Mack era ends
First, the best news of the week – no, year – by far is the release of South Carolina State’s Tyvoris Solomon from UNC Rex Hospital. If you’ve been living in a cave, Solomon collapsed after his heart stopped during a game against N.C. State last week. After being resuscitated by trainers, he was taken to Rex. “He was in great spirits, and he was excited obviously to get a chance to be able to go home and be with his family a little bit,” N.C. State men’s basketball coach Kevin Keatts said. The Solomon family also released a statement thanking S.C. State trainer Tyler Long, Wake County paramedics and other first responders “whose quick actions actually saved his life at PNC Arena.”
And so it begins…
The HBCU coaching carousel that started on Black Monday – the Monday after the regular season ended – is starting to fill up in some places. The biggest news this week, and it was a badly kept secret, is the departure of N.C. Central coach Jerry Mack. Mack has joined new Rice coach Mike Bloomgren as offensive coordinator. (Just saw on website that Michigan defensive backs coach Brian Smith is the new defensive coordinator.) Mack and Bloomgren coached together at Delta State several years ago. I’m not going to go into all that Mack has done at NCCU, who doesn’t know that. I actually thought he was a goner last season after the Eagles won the MEAC championship outright and earned a spot in the Celebration Bowl. This past season was a different group, though, and looked nothing like the disciplined, level-headed squads of the past three champions. Mack is no fool. Coaches have to strike while they’re hot. He had one down season in four years. That’s forgivable. But another bad year and that bright star might get too dim for anyone to see. Defensive coordinator Granville Eastman has been named interim head coach. Under his leadership since 2014, NCCU’s defense has ranked in the upper echelon in the FCS. Read Mack's letter to the NCCU community, here.
- Donald Hill-Eley had the interim tag removed at Alabama State. Hill-Eley led ASU to a 5-1 record in its last six games after the firing of Brian Jenkins.
- Footballscoop.com reports that Prairie View A&M head coach Willie Simmons has been offered the Florida A&M job. No word yet on Simmons’ response. I asked a colleague why would he even consider leaving PVAM for the Rattlers, who have had so much turnover recently. He said FAMU football is still considered a prime gig because of its rich history. And that former coach Alex Wood was going in the right direction but wasn’t given enough time to complete the deal.
- And speaking of moving on, Cheyney announced this week that it was dropping football. If rival Lincoln (Pa.) doesn’t start winning more than three games a year, it needs to consider the same, or else drop back down to DIII.
No place like home
Click on the SIAC website and there’s a big Welcome Back banner for Savannah State. The Tigers, who made the decision to return to Division II after a disastrous attempt at the Division I level, is going back home to the place that it left – pending NCAA approval, of course. SSU’s application will be submitted by Feb. 1, according to a statement. The university left the SIAC in 2000. After competing as an independent for 10 years, the Tigers joined the MEAC as a provisional member in 2010 and full member the next season. “We are very pleased to welcome Savannah State University back to the SIAC,” stated Council of Presidents Chairman George T. French Jr., also president of Miles College. “The historical ties shared by Savannah State and the SIAC, coupled with a shared commitment to academic and athletic excellence, makes them a perfect fit for our great conference.” Of course, some folks still aren’t happy, but did they give any money?