As the 2009 college football season winds down and the field of potential entrants for the NCAA Division I FCS Championships begins to be boiled down by the selection committee, one team in that group deserves strong consideration for inclusion in the Sweet 16: Florida A&M University.
Why Florida A&M University? Here are some major factors in the Playoff Case For The Rattlers:
Florida A&M University Football is a well-respected program which has held its’ own against all comers since its’ elevation to varsity status in
• The Rattlers rank #4 all-time among FCS schools in winning
percentage (.706) and their 531 victories (coming into
2009) rank them in the Top 25 among FCS programs.
• FAMU was the winner of the inaugural NCAA Division I
FCS championship in 1978, and has made seven NCAA
postseason appearances all-time (1978, 1996, 1997, 1998,
1999, 2000, 2001).
• In addition to the 1978 national title, the Rattlers have
proven to be very competitive in their other playoff runs,
reaching the quarterfinals in 1998 and the national semifinals
• In 2009, FAMU has made five national television appearances (ESPNU, ESPN360.com and Versus) with one (1) more on tap via ESPN Classic.
• In November of 2008, the FAMU campus became the first Historically Black College or University (HBCU) to host ESPN’s College Game Day, Built By The Home Depot (Nov.15)
A Demanding Schedule...
The 2009 Rattlers played a demanding schedule featuring just four home games, plus back-to-back nationally-ranked teams on the road in October: #12 BCS University of Miami (Oct. 10) and #9 FCS South Carolina State (Oct. 17) - the only blemishes on a 7- 2 record.
• FAMU is ranked in all NCAA Division I FCS Top 25 polls, standing at #21 in the Coaches’ Poll and #22 in The Sports Network (TSN) and the Any Given Saturday (AGS) rankings.
FAMU’s Great Tradition...
Florida A&M University Football has a superb tradition with
over 500 all-time victories, 12 national championships, including
the 1978 NCAA title and an Associated Press Division Two Title (1962)
• Four-time All-America receiver Jacquay Nunnally (1997-
2000), reigns as the FCS career leader in pass receptions with
318, having helped the Rattlers to four (4) straight NCAA appearances
during his career, including the 1999 national semifinals berth.
• Four (4) Rattler Football personalities have been singled out
for enshrinement into the National Football Foundation’s College
Football Hall of Fame: Coach A.S. “Jake” Gaither (1975),
guard Tyrone McGriff (1996), halfback Willie Galimore (1999)
and Coach William “Billy” Joe (2007).
• Over 120 former players have advanced to the professional
ranks, headed by the late Robert “Bullet Bob” Hayes, the 1964
Olympic gold medal winner, who fashioned an All-Pro career
as a record-setting wide receiver in the NFL (1965-75), which
led to his enshrinement this past August into the Pro Football
Hall of Fame.
A Great Coach • Joe Taylor
The FAMU Rattlers are currently led by future College Hall of Fame head coach Joseph “Joe” Taylor, in his second season in Tallahassee.
• Taylor led FAMU to the best turnaround in NCAA FCS
in 2008 (from 3-8 in 2007 to 9-3 in 2008), finishing 17
points shy of a perfect 12-0 season in his debut campaign.
• The Washington, D.C. native has continued the Rattler
Football Renaissance in 2009, leading the Rattlers back to
the FCS Top 25 for the first time since 2001.
• The 2001 president of the American Football Coaches
Association, Taylor ranks in the top five in career winning
percentage and career victories among NCAA FCS
coaches with 213 career wins in 28 seasons as a collegiate
• He has led his teams to 13 postseason appearances during his head coaching career and nine (9) conference championships, sending over a three dozen players into professional football.
The 2009 FAMU Football squad is a senior-dominated crew (26 seniors), featuring two returning All-Americans, one Walter Payton Award candidate and 12 preseason all conference selections.
• Heading the Rattlers’ cast of leading men is senior QB Curtis Pulley,
the Walter Payton Award nominee, who ranks #5 in FCS in total offense
(299.0 ypg) and #12 in rushing (98.8 ypg), having three (3)
times rushed for 180 or more yards in a game, including a 231-yard
effort against Morgan State (Oct. 31).
• The other matinee idol in the Rattlers’ cast of stars is All-America
return specialist LeRoy Vann, the FCS national leading in punt returns
(20.9), with a single-season record-tying five (5) TD returns this season.
The mercurial Vann has 11 career combined kick returns (8 punts,
3 kickoffs) and he holds NCAA career marks for TD punt returns (8)
and combined TD kick returns (11), and now stands as the fifth (5th)
player in FCS history to compile 1,000 yards or more in both kickoff
and punt returns.