Friday, July 15, 2016

Kellenberger: It's obvious there's new respect for the SWAC

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — There’s a change afoot in the SWAC.

Tony Hughes left Mississippi State to come to Jackson State. Southern Miss saw Alcorn State’s back-to-back SWAC titles and hired Jay Hopson. Grambling coach Broderick Fobbs reportedly interviewed for an FBS job, and Prairie View A&M’s Willie Simmons rebuffed a USM assistant coach offer.

The path from SWAC to the rest of college football is suddenly clear in both directions, something that could not be said before this offseason.

“The perception was the SWAC was somewhere you go when your career is over,” SWAC commissioner Duer Sharp said during the conference’s media day Friday. “That’s not the case, and I don’t think it’s ever been the case. I think it was just a label given to the league.”

So what happened? Why now? The SWAC let the outside world in, and vice-versa.

Hopson’s 2012 hire at Alcorn State was a big deal for reasons outside of being the first white head coach in the historically-black conference; this was a guy with major college experience coming into the league. Same thing with Fobbs two years later; all of his prior experience was outside of the league.


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