There’s a mess in the works at Alcorn State. There’s a big game in the making at Prairie View. Grambling has won five straight games heading into the Bayou Classic. And for poor Mississippi Valley, the team that can’t catch a break, the season is over.
One among many notes, quotes and doodads as we take a trip throughout the SWAC:
ALCORN STATE: It’s getting testy in at Alcorn State. Earlier this month, a group of alumni wrote a letter asking for donations that could go toward a firing and buyout of first-year coach Melvin Spears. This week, school president Christopher Brown told the Clarion-Ledger that Spears has a “50-50” chance of being back next year. Asked about his status at Alcorn, Spears replied: “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and if you look around the country, even some of the best coaches … didn’t come in and all of a sudden end up in a championship game. But I think we’re working toward what we’re doing, and it’s just a matter of time before we’ll be there.” Ross Dellenger of the Clarion-Ledger has done a fine job of breaking down the soap opera.
ALABAMA A&M: Alabama A&M will avoid the long, winding 16-hour bus trip from Normal, Ala., to Prairie View this week, Jones said. Instead, the Bulldogs will fly to Texas. Anthony Jones said that after the team’s last trip to Texas, the A&M administration promised it would raise the money to fly the team to Prairie View. Instead of leaving Thursday and missing two days of classes, the team will leave Friday for a two-hour flight. Prairie View and Alabama A&M meet with plenty on the line. The winner is assured of a spot in the SWAC Championship Game.
TEXAS SOUTHERN: Even though last year’s SWAC champion, Texas Southern, has a very real chance to finish first in the league in rushing defense, total defense and rushing offense, the Tigers are assured of a last-place finish in the Western Division. Can they knock Arkansas-Pine Bluff out of the race? Kevin Ramsey hopes so, but said that isn’t TSU’s primary mission in the season finale. “We look to just get the win,” he said. “Our deal is being the best we can be with each of our opponents.”
MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE: Mississippi Valley State has finished its season at 1-10, and coach Karl Morgan said he knows at least one area at which the Devils must improve. “I think we have to find a quarterback that’s accurate,” Morgan said. Garrick Jones and Marvin Pittman split time at quarterback, completing 47 percent of their passes.
GRAMBLING: Doug Williams had more praise for star-out-of-nowhere receiver Mario Louis this week. Of course, Louis certainly earned it, with nine catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns during a 29-25 win against Texas Southern in the team’s home finale. “You’re talking about a guy with great size. We’re not talking about a guy that’s 5-8. We’re talking about a guy that’s 6-1, about 200 pounds. And no, he’s not Randy Moss speed. But he’s a competitor. … This guy knows how to play football. Those are the things that, as a scout, you look for: size, confidence, ability to break tackles and run routes and make the tough catch. Mario has done it all.”