The luncheon is about the start. So far, I have a whole media table to myself. More seats than media. And need I say why - AGAIN!
45 days till the start of football season. Shaw Athletics Director Marcus Clarke is president of the CIAA AD Association.
Commission Jacqie McWilliams about to speak. Looks good in a green dress. Says conference faces challenges. "Cancelling last season's football championship game was a dark day for us." The board recommended no additional penalties against Winston-Salem and Virginia State after "the fight." Did change the conference bylaws "to make sure it will never happen again." Focusing on developing leadership and sportsmanship. Committee is working on a sportsmanship campaign. VSU had highest graduation rate of athletes at 70 percent.
Student-athlete Ayanna Tweedy gives the invocation. So good to hear somebody use Christ's name at the end. This PC crap has gotten out of hand.
Food is excellent, especially when it's free.
Preseason predictions. No surprises. Virginia State picked to win North. Winston-Salem picked to win South and is the No. 1 overall pick. Another no surprise, Rams dominating the all-conference teams.
12. Lincoln speaks first since the Lions are picked last overall. Coach Ramon Flanigan said they want to become relevant in the CIAA and not just a participant. Lincoln's Akeem Jordan wants to be a Realtor for athletes. He's close to getting his Realtor license. Lincoln opens its season against archrival Cheyney. Flanigan call it the Hatfields vs. McCoys.
11. Livingstone is next. Coach Daryl Williams said QB Drew Powell had rededicated himself academically and athletically. Only 4 teams had winning records last season. Powell was 2012 CIAA Rookie of the Year. Says he has grown on and off the field. Hllman Evans IV wants to be a radio personality or TV broadcaster. Has the name for it.
10. Virginia Union. Coach Mark James is one of two new head coaches. Panthers haven't won championship since 2001.
9. St. Augustine's. Coach Michael Costa is alone. No student-athletes, just like last season. Costa is in his 13th season. Says it's a lucky number. "We're gong to do better than what we did last year," he said. Doesn't every coach think that? Team will play entire season at George Williams Complex on campus. Thinks he can replace Chaz Robinson and Nelson on defense. Chris Roberts, it's his turn now, Costa said. He's played behind other good players, but this year is his. CIAA is not a slouch organization and is not a slouch conference, Costa said.
8. Chowan. Coach Tim Place said last season's 4-6 record was disappointing and that's a good sign. Means people expect better things now. Chowan has killer football helmets. Players like them but Place said he could care less about a helmet. He just wants to win. What else would a coach say?
7. Johnson C. Smith. Coach Steven Aycock says their goal is 11 in a row, one at a time. Jovantay Williams looks quite dapper in his suit and bowtie. Not a fan of men in dreds or earrings. Never will be. Wide receiver Christen Patterson has on Kevin Durant eyeglasses. Talking a little smack. Smith takes on Charlotte. Aycock said there's only one football team in Charlotte and it's the blue and gold.
6. Bowie State. Coach Damon Wilson said the team came together during the final three games of the season. Will go as far as the offensive and defensive line will take them. Bowie getting a new locker room for opponents and a new weight room.
5. Elzabeth City State. Coach Waverly Tillar is in his 11th season. Tillar is looking all serious. Almost forgot what it feels like to have a losing season. ECSU finished 4-6. Got some help on defensive line. We are going to run the football. That's what we're going to do, run the football, Tillar said. Vikings open season against N.C. Central. Latrell (Scott) found a hole and pounded me pretty good. Then Damon (Wilson) came and found that same hole. But that hole is now closed, Tillar said. I'm getting ready for Durham. I've already made 2 reservations: against NCCU and the championship game. "For everybody that beat me last year, I got something for you."
4. Shaw. QB Trevius Folston says he feels like he can do it all, rollout, dropping back, running, whatever it takes. Expect to see many transfers and JUCOs this season. Coach Robert Massey is tired of losing. Folston is 6-7, 230. No basketball in future but coach Cleo Hill Jr. has been giving him a lookover. Marquise Grizzle says he wants the team to come together as a brotherhood and get back to winning ways of 2010, the Bears last championship under Darrell Asberry.
3. Virginia State. You can tell Trojans have a chip on their shoulder. Coach Latrell Scott and Brandon Robinson and Jaivon Smallwood are at the podium. Scott said he was a Joe Taylor fan as a kid. Taylor, a legendary football coach at Hampton, is now AD at Virginia Union.
2. Fayetteville State. Coach Lawrence Kershaw said he had a decent first year but fell short of goal to win a championship. Michael Johnson said chemistry wise, the Broncos are more of a family.
1. Winston-Salem State. New head coach Kienus Boulware says he's been prepared for a long time for his first head coaching position. Was assistant under Rudy Abrams, Rod Broadway, Connell Maynor and one more I forgot. Maurice Lewis says it's harder and harder to win each year. The bar has been set. Boulware said Lewis didn't earn his respect, he "took it." Rams have a QB controversy and a leader will come out of that, he said. The two QBs are Rudy Johnson and Phil Sims. Interesting that Johnson is not here. Larry Hearne is a chemistry major and wants to open up his own practice.
1. Winston-Salem State
2. Fayetteville State
4. Johnson C. Smith
5. Saint Augustine's
1. Virginia State
2. Elizabeth City State
3. Bowie State
5. Virginia Union