We are less than two months away from MEAC football Media Day with pre-season practices starting soon after. That means it’s never too early to look ahead to the 2023 season, and that includes a look at the six coaches who will lead their teams into battle this season, from championship status to fresh starts.
Let’s look at the HBCU Sports MEAC football coaches’ power rankings.
1. Trei Oliver, North Carolina Central
Trei Oliver has taken his alma mater from the outhouse to the penthouse of the MEAC in just over three seasons, capping a 10-win 2022 season with a classic 41-34 overtime win over SWAC champion Jackson State in the Celebration Bowl this past December.
A former defensive back and punter at Central in the late 90s, Oliver served as an assistant coach and coordinator for several MEAC and SWAC programs, giving him a unique perspective and extensive experience in the HBCU football world. The honor of guiding his alma mater has prepared Oliver for this moment, and the Eagles couldn’t ask for a better leader to defend their share of the MEAC championship this season.
2. Larry Scott, Howard
Another veteran assistant, this time at the FBS level, Scott led the Bison to a share of their first MEAC title since the days of Steve Wilson and Ted White some 30 years ago.
Chasing down NC Central while keeping Morgan State, South Carolina and Norfolk State off the Bison’s heels will be Larry Scott’s greatest challenge. But with experience at big-time programs such as Tennessee, Miami and Florida, he knows what it takes to put a winning football team on the field. Scott will have the Bison extremely motivated and ready to go once camp begins later this summer.
On the doorstep
3. Damon Wilson, Morgan State
Wilson, formerly of Bowie State, has quickly put his stamp on the Morgan State program, leading the Bears to their highest MEAC finish (third place) since the unbelievable five-way tie for the conference title in 2014.
MSU’s two biggest wins in 2022 were a 24-9 win over eventual FCS tournament participant Sacred Heart and a 41-14 destruction of South Carolina State.
Wilson has a reputation as a top-notch recruiter and with Bears alumnus Alfonzo Graham signing a three-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers after impressing in rookie tryout camp, expect Wilson to get more talented athletes onto Cold Spring Lane. Morgan State may not catch up to NC Central this year, but the day is coming sooner rather than later.
4. Buddy Pough, South Carolina State
The dean of MEAC football coaches, Buddy Pough enters his 22nd season in charge of his alma mater with a lot to prove after a surprising fall to last place in 2022.
The Bulldogs are the signature program in the conference, and a rebound year is never far off thanks to a stifling defense and an unpredictable offense that returns quarterback Corey Fields from injury.
You can never look past South Carolina State, especially under Pough, who always seems to get the most out of his players.
Remember the 2021 Celebration Bowl?
Works in progress
5. Dawson Odums, Norfolk State
Odums came from Southern University with a lot of promise, but the Spartans have had a rough go of it, especially after the departure of do-everything quarterback Juwan Carter.
The good news is the Spartans’ two wins in 2022 came at the expense of title contenders Morgan State and South Carolina State, so Odums can still motivate his players to dig down for a little something extra.
That motivation will be needed as NC Central, Howard and Morgan appear to be the favorites for the conference title, and South Carolina State is just a step behind.
6. Lee Hull, Delaware State
Hull comes into a difficult situation at Delaware State, where the Hornets have not had a winning record since the 2012 season.
Hull is DSU’s fourth coach (Kermit Blount, Kenny Carter and the recently ousted Hornet Hall of Famer Rod Milstead) since that season, and he has to replace several key offensive, defense and special teams standouts.
The Hornets started 2022 4-2 but then came undone to finish 5-6. Does Hull have some leftover magic from when he guided Morgan State to the FCS playoffs in 2014 to get DSU over the hump? We will soon find out.
Leave a Reply