Speaking & Teaching
Morgan State University
Return To Glory
This afternoon I had a fantastic discussion with a member of the 1979 Morgan State University MEAC Football Championship team. I will leave his name out of this particular blog because it isn't really relevant to what I would like to discuss. This coming Saturday in Norfolk, Virginia on the campus of Norfolk State University our Morgan State University Bears will end the 2018 football season. Win or lose the season has been another huge disappointment for the family of Morgan State University's supporters. We had been promised back when Coach Donald Hill-Ely was terminated on November 25, 2013, a return to Morgan State University's athletic excellence on the football gridiron. Coach Hill-Ely spent 12 years on Morgan State University's campus. He averaged a little less than 5 wins per season during those 12 years and less than 4 wins per year in the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference. His tenure was marked by consistent mediocrity but he most likely those 12 years because of he successfully navigating homecoming game victories. Donald Hill-Ely was the offensive coordinator during Hampton University run from 1997-2000 when Hampton won the mythical Black National Championship and 2 MEAC Conference titles. So Coach Hill-Ely did have the background to build a winning program. One of Coach Hill-Ely's faults was that he never truly valued the counsel of former MSU players. He wanted his way and he refused to allow what he considered inference from previous alumni players. That according to my contact this afternoon was one of his major faults. The fault of the university according to Coach Donald Hill-Ely was that he never received the necessary resources to build a truly competitive team. As a matter of fact, this is what Coach Hill-Ely said upon his firing:
“You’ve got a 10th-place budget out of 11 teams and you finish third,” he said. “The thing about is, I’m not the one that grants the chances or the opportunities. It’s up to the administration.”
Well upon firing that football coach and hiring a new athletic director and since that firing, 3 football coaches Hull, Farrier, and Jones have manned the helm of the sinking ship that is the Morgan State University football program. Time hasn't repaired the damage of the continuous path that Morgan State University football mediocrity since glory days that ended with that 1979 championship team. I remember reading about the return to glory, the return to athletic excellence especially the excellence that embodied the magnificent history of Morgan Grizzly football. The past two years have been especially difficult but the only real positive turn in the direction of greatness was provided not on the field of play but on social media. Brother James Wills, Hans Ramsey, Craig Spencer, Mike Holston, and other members of the 1979 team refused to go blindly into the night. They created an organization called the Bear Boosters and begun to swing the pendulum of change more positively towards that return to glory promised by the Morgan State University administration when they went on a search to find a replacement for Coach Donald Hill-Ely. You see these alumni players believed what the current administration promised in 2013 and awaited the return on that promise.
Well, promises made were broken because as another season of Morgan State University Football ends this Saturday in Norfolk. This group of men and women that comprise the Morgan State University Bear Boosters are making it clear that no longer is mediocrity acceptable. When the final seconds wind down on Saturday the search will begin to find a new coach to captain our football team into the future. I am sorry to say that the current coach, Ernest T. Jones isn't the answer. He has proven this season that he doesn't offer the skills necessary to build a championship brand at Morgan State University. Time and time again Coach Jones hasn't made the adjustments during the game to win football games. This according to my caller who attended every one of Morgan State's football game. Morgan State University needs an individual who understands fully the magnificent history not only of Morgan State University but the entire black college football history. I am sorry to say that the current coach doesn't understand that history nor does he comprehend the importance of that history.
As Morgan State University ends the season with a win over a Norfolk State University team they hadn’t beaten in 11 years. You may want to sign Coach Jones as the permanent head coach of Morgan State University. That would be the wrong decision unless after a true national search Coach Jones rises above any the of available coaching candidates. Personally, I don’t think that will be the case but if he becomes the true candidate and is willing to return our illustrious tradition to the Morgan State University sidelines than he becomes that new captain to man the ship. I would love for Morgan State University to engage if possible a candidate who graduated and played at Morgan State University. I am sure that in your search you will find a suitable candidate with that background. If not, then please look to hire a coach who demonstrates the necessary knowledge of the historical prominence of a successful HBCU program. You cannot continue to win 3-4 games per season and hope to slip into excellence. Excellence requires total teamwork and that methodology requires an individual willing to counsel with every facet of our university. Yes, the head coach will make all the critical decisions that entail building a winning program. However, that individual must be able to work to develop a buy-in attitude that will draw in the energies necessary to create an enthused campus. We need to drive the engine of success by fueling our athletic program supporters with excitement. I truly hope that the next hire that is delivered our football program at “the” Morgan State University understands that he turns the key that leads to a new era of excitement at Hughes Stadium and Earl Banks Field.
On November 15, 1897, John Mercer Langston, great uncle of the magnificent poet and writer Langston Hughes passed in the eternal lands of our black ancestors. John Langston was born a free black on December 14, 1829, in Louisa County, Virginia. He was born 35 years before the end of the Civil War eliminated slavery. So, John Mercer Langston dedicated that period of his life to supporting actively abolitionist's cause dedicated to removing the shackles of oppression from our ancestors. He also was instrumental in leading the cause during the Civil War to promoting blacks to join the union and defeat all elements of the Confederacy.
In his remarkable life, John Mercer Langston accomplished so much to deliver uplift to our ancestors. He was indeed quite a brilliant man whose achievements were so rewarding that he was honored at his passing by a town in Oklahoma being named for him. Along with Langston, Oklahoma, the Langston College the only historically black in that state also located in Langston, Oklahoma carries his name as well.
John Mercer Langston's firm belief that blacks be truly elevated to full first-class citizenship and have the legal protections inherent in that standing, lead to John Mercer Langston being one of the founders as well as the first dean of the prestigious Howard University School of Law. Mr. Langston also served as interim president of Howard University as well. He served as the first President of Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute, now Virginia State University, located in Petersburg, Virginia. Still, today both Howard University and Virginia State University continue to follow in the tradition of the spirit of black uplift that earmarked the life of John Mercer Langston.
John Mercer Langston was also one of the Capitol Men, black men elected to Congress during the period of Reconstruction. John Mercer Langston was one of the last of the elected black representative in Congress because Reconstruction was in the process of being dismantled. He was allowed only to serve one term before the white southern democrats moved back into power and unleashed the beginnings of one hundred years of racial dominance.
The genes of John Mercer Langston were replete with a brilliance that favored our community, and communities all over the world. His great-nephew was one of the most heralded writers of all time, Langston Hughes. So today when "The Black Blogger" reflects back on the life of John Mercer Langston, he marvels at the role this ancestor has played and actually continues to play in building better tomorrows. Even though he passed away 121 years ago today "Langston Effect" continues to build on his original intent, building communities centered around black unity and pride.