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|Spears questionable pick for Alcorn|
Nobody asked me and I certainly do not have a dog in the hunt.
But after covering Alcorn State athletics for approximately 20 years, I still have a lot of fondness for the university.
Hey, just four years of being able to watch Steve McNair work magic at Jack Spinks Stadium makes me feel like I still owe something back to the Reservation.
So I can only relate how appalled I was to hear that Melvin Spears has been named the new head football coach at Alcorn State.
Now I dealt with some class people at Alcorn such as Marino Casem, Cardell Jones, Shirley Walker, Loånnie Walker, Sam West, Willie McGowan, Dr. Johnny Thomas and all-time favorite Davey Whitney.
Which is what makes it so tough to see Spears now sitting in the head football coaching office now.
Alcornites must certainly have short memories.
Spears is the guy who was coaching at Grambling back in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.
Because of Hurricane Katrina, Alcorn State voted to postpone its game with Grambling State on Sept. 3, 2005.
Twenty-five Alcorn State players were from New Orleans or the Gulf Coast, and some had yet to learn if their relatives survived.
On campus, the power was out until two days before the game, forcing players to sleep on mattresses in the gym.
Yet Spears did not want to reschedule the game, asking the Southwestern Athletic Conference for a win via forfeit instead.
In a weekly teleconference call that followed, Spears told reporters that Grambling offered to host the game and allow Alcorn to keep money from ticket sales.
"And they still didn't show up," he said. "We gave Alcorn ample opportunity to play. Don't make excuses about coming over here to play."
Later he said he was misinterpreted, saying: "My concern was for the victims of the hurricane. Alcorn and Grambling would draw a crowd of 25,000. If we passed a hat and everybody in the crowd donated just $10, that would be $250,000 for the relief fund. That's why I thought we should play."
Nice try, Melvin. If your day job ever washes out, you would be a great PR guy.
Spears also called Pat Forde of and said he was frustrated with Alcorn State for delaying its postponement decision, and that he had a hard time locating some of his own relatives.
"There's no way possible that I don't feel for my most favorite city in the world," Spears said of New Orleans in doing a better backstroke than Michael Phelps.
Thomas said at the time, "They can say they beat Alcorn — if that makes them feel good, fine. My players' lives are more important than a football game."
The SWAC wanted to reschedule the game, and Thomas wanted to see it played Dec. 3.
Spears balked at both notions, saying the Tigers' regular season ends with their traditional game against Southern in the Bayou Classic on Nov. 26.
"We're not playing after the season is over," Spears said. "We offered to pay their way over here, and they refused to come. So we're not going to play. I will be applying for the forfeit rule. Postponement means both teams didn't have a chance to play. We had a place to play. We've got just as many kids from New Orleans as they do. In fact, we've got more."
I would love to get some quotes from Thomas now.
Oh, and don't think for a minute this was an insolated incident.
Spears would not trade film with Washington State coach Bill Doba a few years back. Bet Spears had an easier time getting a scouting report.
In 2005 as Grambling head coach, Spears had the Tigers cruising, beating opponents by an average of four touchdowns per game. Along the way, Spears went for two with 34 seconds left in the Western Division title-clinching 58-21 win over Texas Southern.
Then there was the lopsided 82-7 victory in 2005 over Concordia College.
But, then again, we're talking about the guy who cut his own son Spears' three older children — Seana, Kulmoris and Jerome, the former tight end — all went to Grambling State. When Jerome didn't live up to expectations, he was taken off the Grambling roster. As a father, he said that hurt. But Spears knew, as a coach, there was no other way."It was," he said, "business. I don't remember many more Doug Williams' coming through Grambling.
He finished at Grambling with a 20-14 record
Not surprisingly, Alcorn is making a bigger issue of the fact Spears is an Alcorn State graduate.
And, another issue I've had with the university the past few years, they had the press conference to announce Spears' hiring in Jackson.
Alcorn seemed to dump the Natchez area years ago.
Signing someone from Natchez was as rare as a Steve McNair quarterback sack in Lorman.
Long gone are the days when former Brave coach Theo Danzy had his "Peace Pipe Preview in the old Holiday Inn in Natchez when he and two Alcorn players (usually Cedric Tillman and Torrance Small) would talk about the upcoming game.
Spears beat out Mount Olive High offensive coordinator Fred McNair and former NFL assistant Dwayne White for the head coaching position.
Steve McNair once told me his older brother, Fred, was the better quarterback, but never got the kind of opportunities he did.
Fred was an outstanding quarterback. And much more personable than Steve was in college.
He certainly knows the game. Dwayne played with Fred and also has been through the wars.
Fred McNair or Dwayne White would have been excellent choices for the head coaching position in Lorman.
Spears will do what he does best, put his ego first, run over anyone who gets in his way, and make even more enemies.
I miss those days on the Reservation - the Sounds of Dynamite leading the crowd in a rendition of End of the Road by Boyz to Men with the singing going on long after the music.
But times have changed in Lorman. Alcorn has gone from a gunslinger to an outlaw. And I'm afraid Spears will have them in the headlines just as much as Steve McNair did. Unfortunately, it won't be near as positive.
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