Albany State Football Throws Shade, But Tuskegee-Virginia State is About to Be Lit

A big time regular-season black college football finale with playoff implications? Yes, please.

A big time regular-season black college football finale with playoff implications? Yes, please.

Albany State screwed Tuskegee this week by verbally agreeing to, then backing out of a game the Golden Tigers needed to win to qualify for entry into the NCAA Division II playoffs.

ASU, Tuskegee dispute football game agreement
One thing is known: Albany State will not be playing Tuskegee at home on November 12. How the two schools got to that…

As silly as that sounds for sister institutions in the same conference, it’s not as dumb as it appears when you consider that the schools are responsible for their own individual scheduling, even with each other. And to find out how we arrived at a point where two SIAC football mainstays are caught in a canceled game controversy, you have to go back years; not days or weeks.

The foolishness time machine takes us all the way back to the mid-2000’s and the historically inept leadership of former SIAC Commissioner William Lide, who before he was fired in 2008 for financial mismanagement of grand proportions, had the conference office stripped of schedule-making authority over its member schools by the council of presidents.

Travel back through the foolishness time warp to last December, when Stillman College, facing financial disaster, announced it would drop football and most other sports in an effort to save money.

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That loss of opponent required the Golden Tigers, a perennial favorite to win the SIAC, to finish the season with a perfect record and a berth in the conference championship game, just to qualify for playoff consideration.

But then the foolishness time travel brings us to last month, when TU was upset by visiting Kentucky State University 10–9 at homecoming.

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So that’s how we got here: bad leadership from more than a dozen years ago, financial turmoil last year and an awful home loss last month — all leading up to this week’s fiasco between the Rams and the Golden Tigers. All of that makes it hard to pin everything on Albany State and its explanation of player safety for backing out of the game against the Tuskegee Machine.

But for the salt Albany State athletic officials threw on the school and the conference for their reneging on the original agreement, they are most side-eye worthy. From WALB:

“One, this isn’t a game that provided any benefit to Albany State,” (Albany State Athletic Director Sherie) Gordon says. “But two, specifically the risk of injury. We discussed a great deal that risk and playing in the game. It just didn’t leave us feeling positive about the opportunity to compete.”

Had it been the SIAC championship or the NCAA playoffs there would be concern for injury, but not high enough to boycott a contest. Against Tuskegee, that same concern would’ve been possibly assuaged by gate and parking receipt splits.

It is ASU’s prerogative to protect players, and to bear the heat of SIAC football fans crushing them for the next two weeks and likely into next season for denying an unusual conference rematch with a shot at the playoffs on the line for both squads. But more than the negative coverage of their flip-flopping, Albany State is going to be sour about the alternative Tuskegee secured late last night — a matchup with 8–2 CIAA North Division runner-up Virginia State University.

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Buy Photo Tuskegee athletic director Curtis Campbell has been working to get a 10th game for Tuskegee to qualify for…

While there is little regional pull for Trojan fans to travel to Tuskegee, there are implications for playoff eligibility and seeding at stake. The Bailout Bowl puts old coaching rivals Willie Slater and Reggie Barlow back together again for the first time since the 2012 Turkey Day Classic.

And the game gives an unexpected intra-conference regular season game a Pioneer Bowl feel, something that SIAC and CIAA fans should have realized was a great sports property before our non-support led to its cancellation in 2014.

Pioneer Bowl Canceled
SIAC and CIAA CANCEL 2014 PIONEER BOWL The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Central Intercollegiate…

A mess with years and layers of complexity may turn into a magical moment for black college football this weekend. And at the end of it, the three teams involved may advance to the national football playoff.

So was it really a mess after all? Or mad genius at its finest?