Sunday, February 8, 2009

Delaware State Hornets to Invade Michigan Stadium

Michigan and Delaware State have scheduled a non-conference match October 17th in Ann Arbor. The Hornets serve as Michigan's 12th opponent for the 2009 season and will be the second Division 1-AA school faced by the Wolverines since the 2007 game with Appalachian State.

Delaware State is from the MEAC (Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference), a collection of 11 predominantly black institutions including:

Coppin State
Florida A&M
Hampton U.
Howard U.
U of Maryland - Eastern Shore
Morgan State
Norfolk State
North Carolina A&T
South Carolina State

Although Delaware State's football success within the MEAC conference since 1970 has been rather limited, Delaware State climbed back into "winning tradition" status through the leadership of coach William Collick and more recently in 2007 with HC Al Lavan. DSU football achieved the following MEAC conference titles:

1985 (9-2-0)
1987 (8-2-0)
1988 (5-5-0) tied conf. title
1989 (7-4-0)
1991 (9-2-0)
2007 (10-1)

Some little-known facts about Delaware State football:

1.) DSU produced NFL superstar wide receive John Taylor who went on to star for the San Francisco 49ers and catching the game winning touchdown pass from Joe Montana vs. Cincinnatti in the closing seconds of Super Bowl XXI to win 21-16.

Exhibit 1 of Delaware State awesomeness, former Hornet WR, and Jerry Rice-side kick, John Taylor.

2.) In 1990 DSU defeated Liberty University (famous for Reverend Jerry Fallwell, 6,000 year old dinosaur bones, and otherwise having God on their team's side) by a score of 38-37 after facing a 37-9 deficit. God must have had it with the Liberty players pointing to the sky after every big play. I don't blame him.

3.) Ms. Annice Candy served as a side judge in 2002 and the first woman to officiate a Division I college football game when Morris Brown faced Delaware State in Atlanta, GA.

4.) Oddly, Delaware State had never ever faced its own cross-state rival Delaware University Blue Hens until the first round of the FCS playoffs of 2007, when Al Lavan's 10-1 DSU team was defeated 7-44 by the championship game-bound Blue Hens.

Delaware State vs. Delaware 2007. First-ever meeting. WTF?

The Delaware State Marching band is called the "Approaching Storm, and is famous for it's high-energy, high-stepping (sound familiar?), rhythmic performances pre-game, at half-time and during DSU's 5th quarter celebrations. Hip Hop, R&B, Jazz and classic Motown music and excellent dance performances have made "The Storm" a popular attraction at NFL football games as well.

Delaware State's "Approaching Storm" Marching Band. Better than Grambling State's or Southern U.'s marching band? Better than University of Michigan's Marching Band? Hmmmm......we'll soon see.

The Hornets finished 5-6 last year under head coach Al Lavan, who is entering his 6th year at DSU. Lavan must replace star QB Vashon Winton, leading rushers TBs Chris Strother and Kareem Jones, and leading receiver WR Eddie Brown. The Hornets do return second leading yardage receivers WR Larrone Moore and WR Erick Jones. Jones caught 4 TD passes in 2008. The new Hornet QB will likely be Anthony Glaud who was Winton's backup last fall (see photo above) or a 2009 freshman recruit Chris Johnson.

Personally, I'm not at all disappointed with this match up going into 2009. I've read a number of UM blogs lamenting this contest as being somehow "beneath Michigan". In my view, Michigan's embarrassing loss to Appalachian State blew that kind of arrogant, fondue-party, "down-in-front!" thinking out of the water 2 years ago. At that moment Michigan football fans, whether they realize it or not, sort of surrendered their "we're to good for *insert school here*" attitude. I think 3-9 and last year's loss to an awful Toledo team also supports my view.

The Delaware State game is going to be good for the Michigan football team as a confidence builder. It's going to be good for DSU in the form of a nice payout, and one for their football program record books. DSU has never faced an opponent of Michigan's stature in their football program's history. And finally, I believe the game will be great for Michigan fans as the DSU football team runs a spread offense and displays some very fast players. Also, the DSU marching band is really something special to watch. I hope Delaware State fans manage to travel to Michigan for the game, that they feel welcome and enjoy the experience.

That all said, I do think that Michigan will face this kind of last minute scheduling routine for some time to come. Michigan has to fill its stadium with a 12th opponent. It has to. Michigan cannot make the same amount of money playing road games. A road game payoff would always be far less than a Big House game. So over the next 10 years, it will become next to impossible to convince other Division I teams like LSU, Clemson, Miami(FL), Oklahoma, Nebraska, USC or Texas to only play Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Today, Michigan football is essentially damned in non-conference scheduling to MAC School, MAC School, Notre Dame (To whom I will frequently refer to on this blog as "Notre Stain") , and a fourth, undetermined-up-to-the-last-freaking-moment opponent.

This ridiculous Notre Dame scheduling arrangement is unfortunately chiseled in stone for Michigan's football until 2031. The only way Michigan football might ever escape this dreadful scheduling hell would be if the Notre Dame athletic administration started to hate NBC money, and decided to, shall we say, "grow a pair" and join the Big Ten conference. Right now Notre Dame is an independent, non-affiliated football program. The Fighting Irish, however, are a member of the Big East conference in basketball.

Such a unlikely development might release Michigan from it's obligations under contract, since Notre Dame would be hopping in an out of a regular season conference schedule with the Wolverines and other Big Ten opponents. It would also open up Michigan's ability, to schedule other, higher-caliber non-conference opponents such as those mentioned above.

This is all conjecture, since Notre Dame may never join the Big Ten ever, and is probably more likely to join the Big East or remain an annoying Independent. I mean, Iowa State, Pittsburgh and Missouri are all more likely candidates to make a "Big 10+2" a reality in the future.

Eleven Big Ten (Big Eleven?) teams sort of sucks right now, because it robs the conference of extra revenue dollars that a championship game generates. Also, there's an argument to be made about a 13th game and better bowl game preparation.

Prior to the start of the 2009 season I will post again on the subject of a 12th team for the Big Ten conference and what that arrangement might (should) look like.

I do not have much optimism regarding this subject, however, and until serious deliberations take place again by Notre Stain officials, I can only look forward to observing the football teams of Delaware State, Hampton, Florida A&M, Bethune-Cookman and even Delaware U. (nice helmets!) try their luck in Ann Arbor in the coming years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This will be the first time that Michigan will play a Black College. And with that comes a great Black College marching band. Now I don't think it will be much of battle on the field, but the battle of the bands will be something to watch. Michigan is the best band in the north, and from what I've seen, they can hold their own with most of the Black bands. I just sent the MMB directors a email, warning them of what's to come, because except for Wisconsin, they've never seen anything like this. In fact the only bands that can compete with them are Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Ohio State, and Northwestern.

It should be a heck of a show and might turn out to be a great game too! If anybody is going to that game, make sure you watch the halftime, the post game, and the march back to Revelli Hall. As they say for us band lovers, the drumline show will be off the hook!