On Thursday night, the MEAC will kick off its football season with Howard at North Carolina A&T on ESPN U. Howard's visit to Greensboro coincides with the 20th anniversary of one of the most fabled games in modern HBCU history.
The Bison rolled in to town hot, having won their first six games of the season. Still, they faced an uphill task against an Aggie Squad that was gunning for its third-straight MEAC championship under Bill Hayes. Adding to the drama was the fact the game took place during homecoming.
Now, homecoming season is a big deal at all HBCUs. But at A&T, like Howard, it's damn near religion. The Aggies even have their own name for it: GHOE aka Greatest Homecoming On Earth. Humble bunch, those Aggies.
So the stage was set for an epic matchup. And the Bison and the Aggies delivered like hell. We're reliving the game, great play after great play.
:00-The Aggies rocked gold helmets back then. Wonder if they'd ever think to bring them back
:11-Is that a "Whoot, There It Is" chant going on in Aggie Stadium? It must be 1993. Tag Team never got back at it after the nine-trey.
1:03-Those old Howard uniforms don't look half bad. Simple, but clean. Maybe the Bison could consider a throwback. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for throwbacks. Oh well…
1:38-Wow, someone is actually outside asking for tickets. At an HBCU Game? God, why wasn't I around for this?
2:08-Yes, that was A&T's most famous alum, the Reverend Jesse Jackson. I have a feeling we'll see him in this again before it's all over. That guy is a camera magnet!
2:43-Garry "Flea" Harrell is now the head coach at Howard. He's sitting this season out for personal reasons, but last year he led the Bison to their best season in over a decade.
3:11-We've got our first throwing of the hooks. It's officially an HBCU game now.
4:35-Look at that wave. The crowd actually looks engaged in the game. I love it!
5:36-Yup. Knew we'd see Jessie again. He, like most Aggies, has never seen a camera he didn't like. No shade intended. (Ok, maybe a little.)
6:50-Check out ESPN's Jay "Sky" Walker shrugging off the tackler and tossing another score. Kinda resembles a lightskinned Cam Newton.
7:27: Bill Hayes is one of the legends of modern day Black College Football. Built Winston-Salem State into a CIAA powerhouse in the '70's and '80's, then went over to rival NC A&T and led them to MEAC titles in the '90's and early '00's. Currently back at WSSU as AD.
8:18-Howard leads 21-7.
9:23– The Sheridan Poll is one of the black college football polls that groups HBCUs together regardless of NCAA Division. A&T and Howard represented the MEAC, Hampton was still in the CIAA, Southern represented the SWAC and Central (OH) State was in the NAIA.
Halftime: 21-14 Howard Bisons…Maybe all this nostalgia for BET HBCU football coverage is a little overblown.
NOTE: While the halftime show wasn't put into this package, it was epic enough to get its own feature. You band heads can check out the link here.
10:58-Wow. Blocked kicks seem to always be momentum shifters. A&T ties it up at 21.
11:35-In less than a quarter, the Aggies have turned a seven-point hole into a 14-point lead. Anything can happen in college football. Gotta love it!
13:02-Sick catch by The Flea.
14:00-Walker had a rocket arm. Turns out he's an ex-pitcher. Makes sense.
16:32– I'm guessing this didn't make BET's broadcast.
16:43-Those words would prove prophetic.
17:10-I know those horns anywhere. "Backstabbers" by the O'Jays…
17:38-Here it comes….Walker calls his own number on fourth down, and goes 25 yards into the endzone, through shellshocked Aggie fans for the game-winning score.
18:00-Then there's the aftermath. Look at the joy and euphoria on their faces.
19:02-And…we've found the team chaplin. And there goes Mr. Que throwing up his hooks again. We see you…
19:15-Peep the shade that Howard coach Steve Wilson is throwing right here…You gotta be an HBCU alum or follower to really get what's being said right there.
"We're not a champion yet, but we're on our way. I'm proud of you, we've got some more work to do at the real homecoming in Washington D.C."
It's been a long time since Black College Football has been that good, or that fun. Both Howard (1-2) and A&T (2-0) fell on tough times around the early '00s, but both finished with 7-4 records in 2012, their best seasons in nearly a decade.
Twenty years later, Walker has come full circle. He's now a member of the Maryland Legislature, in additon to his job as a college football analyst at ESPN. Thursday night, he'll be back in Aggie Stadium calling this year's version of the game. And you can bet the subject of that 1993 game will come up at some point during the game.