News & Notes from Week 3: Ackerman-Carter lost, Griffin suspended for season

The biggest surprise of week three was Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s 45-43 three-overtime come-from-behind victory over two-time defending champion Alcorn State  Golden Lions quarterback Brandon Duncan completed 29-of-52 passes for 505 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.  His favorite target was Willie Young who caught 13 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns.

The Golden Lions are only four years removed from winning the SWAC championship and have been down the last three years.  They host a struggling, 0-3 Jackson State team in Little Rock on Saturday.  This is an opportunity for the Golden Lions to continue their momentum and even their record at 2-2.  A loss and the chance for any shot at the SWAC’s Western Division crown are all but lost.

Duncan was named NC Mutual BOXTOROW National Player of the week and UAPB head coach Monte Coleman will be a guest this week on FROM THE PRESS BOX TO PRESS ROW.

Texas Southern two-sport star Griffin suspended for season reported last week that Texas Southern wide receiver Derrick Griffin had been suspended for the season.  Texas Southern did not make mention of this and I confirmed it with head coach Michael Haywood on Monday’s SWAC coaches call.

Griffin was suspended for a violation of team rules.  Haywood would not specify or elaborate on what Griffin did.

“Obviously, Derrick didn’t do what’s right and he’s been suspended from the team for the rest of the season,” said Haywood.  “He’s more than welcome to come back and join us at our forth quarter program if he desires.  However, he is no longer with the team this semester.”

Griffin played in the first game of the season against Prairie View A&M catching six passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.  Griffin is a former five-star recruit from Terry High School in Texas and originally signed with Texas A&M, then Miami, but didn’t qualify academically.  In 2014 he enrolled at Texas Southern with the intention of taking classes to make himself eligible to transfer to a bigger school.  Liking the TSU environment and the opportunity that TSU gave him, he showed his loyalty by staying at TSU.  Last year as a freshman, Griffin caught 36 passes for 709 yards, 19.7 yards per reception and 11 touchdowns.

The 6’7” sophomore will play basketball for TSU.  Griffin was the BOXTOROW National Player of the Year in basketball last year after averaging 13.3 points and 11.1 rebounds per game.  In his debut on the basketball court last year against Mississippi State, two days after playing his last football game, he scored 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.

This is my personal opinion of what happened here, not knowing really any of the details but if I had to take a guess; perhaps Haywood wanted to control a talent like Griffin? Haywood was a coach at the FBS level with Miami (OH) and had success there.  TSU is different from Miami.  Griffin is a super talent, who with time, could play in the NFL (or NBA).  Perhaps Haywood rode him too much, restricted him a bit, singled him out.

What makes me think this about Haywood is that I was set to do a story on Griffin back in April, just weeks after the basketball season was over and during spring practice.  I was told minutes before the interview that Haywood was restricting Griffin from doing interviews.  After many requests over the next four months, Griffin was not made available.

Why is that?

I talked with former head coach Darrell Asberry who said that Griffin was not a problem at all when he coached him last year.

Not a problem.

And I won’t put it all on Haywood.  I am sure Griffin has some culpability in this.  Maybe he didn’t like something Haywood said and told him so.  After all, Haywood said Griffin was suspended because he didn’t do what was right.

Griffin’s beef, whatever it is, is against the football program solely and more specifically, Haywood.  He obviously liked the school from the beginning, choosing to stay when he could have gone to just about any school in the country.  He is still going to play basketball for coach Mike Davis at TSU and flourished under the previous football regime led by Asberry.

The unfortunate thing here is that a really talented player’s life is changed.  With a good football season this year, he may very well have been on his way to the next level.  TSU will probably never see a five-star player like him again.  They also lose arguably the most draftable player in HBCU football, which certainly changes the dynamics of the offense.

You can’t teach 6’7”, 230.

Couldn’t this have been worked out? Can’t it still be worked out?

O’Shay Ackerman-Carter out for season
Just as the Tennessee State Tigers are on a roll, they received some devastating news this week.  Starting quarterback O’Shay Ackerman suffered a lower extremity injury and will miss the remainder of the season.

Ackerman-Carter left the game early in the second quarter of the Tigers 31-24 win over Bethune-Cookman in Daytona Beach on Saturday. He was trying to run out of bounds after avoiding a pass rush and went down near the Wildcats sideline.

The redshirt-sophomore completed 35-of-57 passes this season for 598 yards, throwing five touchdowns and just two interceptions while helping the Tigers to a 3-0 start.

Ackerman-Carter missed several games last year due to injury.

Ronald Butler will take over the reins for the Tigers.  Butler has played in 28 games in his career and the senior has started 13 games during his time with the Tigers and was selected to the All-Ohio Valley Conference Second Team as a freshman in 2013 the year the Tigers received an at-large berth to the FCS Playoffs.

Butler has thrown for 2,656 yards and 24 touchdowns with 15 interceptions for TSU, completing 56 percent of his passes.

Redshirt-freshman Michael Hughes will move to number two on the depth chart behind Butler. Hughes led Nashville’s Hillsboro High School to a 14-1 overall record and a spot in the Tennessee Class 5A State Championship Game in 2014.

TSU is off this week and will open OVC play hosting UT-Martin on October 1.

The bulk of conference play for both the MEAC and the SWAC begins this week.  The hot topic on the MEAC coaches call on Tuesday was the worth of playing FBS opponents.  This has been hot topic in college football over the last five years.  The response from coaches was varied.

Delaware State head coach Kenny Carter said he welcomes the challenge as the Hornets will play at SEC-opponent Missouri on Saturday. Others like Hampton head coach Connell Maynor prefer not to play these so-called “money games.”

For those that are unaware, FCS teams will play FBS teams in a given season – usually the first two to three weeks of the season – for a guarantee in the neighborhood of $300,000 – $500,000. The money is the main benefit for the FCS team.  The benefit for the FBS team is that they schedule a Division I opponent that they should beat and they are able to recoup the guarantee via ticket sales, concessions, parking, etc.

While most of the time these games turn out to be lopsided affairs, every now and again, a game will be close or an FCS team will win.  Five-time defending FCS national champion North Dakota State defeated 11-th ranked Iowa 23-21 on Saturday.  Richmond handled ACC opponent Virginia 37-20 to open the season.

Amongst HBCUs this year, North Carolina A&T defeated Kent State 39-36 in four overtimes and Grambling played Arizona tough, leading 21-3 at halftime before falling to the Wildcats 31-21.

The debate centers on a couple of different areas.  Should a team even be paid to play these games? Is the guarantee worth the almost sure embarrassment that the FCS school will suffer?  Is it worth risking players’ safety?

The latter two are certainly legitimate concerns, particularly risking potential injuries to players with conference play still in front of teams.  But as was mentioned above, Carter-Ackerman was injured playing against a fellow FCS opponent.

In the game of football, injuries could happen at any time.

South Carolina State has played three FBS opponents this season and has lost all three games by a combined 150-24.  For its trouble, it has made in excess of $1 million.  For those that question whether teams should play these games, in 2015, the South Carolina House committee recommended the closing of South Carolina State University due to financial constraints.

Some schools need that revenue, which helps to fuel athletic departments budgets as a whole, taking some of the strain off of universities.

There are so many different dynamics we can talk about in terms of ways to make money for HBCUs as far as football is concerned, including more classics and bigger football matchups.  The public would have to be open to that and from what I have seen the last six or seven years, attendance for most classics has dropped.  Perhaps television will come more into play as a revenue generator.  Not everyone has a Bayou Classic or Magic City Classic that are great revenue generators for the respective institutions that play in those classics.

That is a conversation for another space.

So when we’re talking about these money games, and while they may be few and far between, let’s not forget to talk about App State’s win over Michigan or NDSUs win over Iowa, A&T’s win over Kent State or Bethune-Cookman’s two-straight wins over FIU.

Or Florida A&M’s win over Miami.

Look at it this way; am I more worried about 150-24 with a chance to still win my conference and at the end of the season no one will remember those three losses?  Or am I going to take that $1 million?

Get your money.

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