Though three games have already been played, the 2015 football season kicks off in a real way beginning Thursday. Thirty-nine (39) games are on tap through the Labor Day weekend with a little bit of everything. Particularly of note is the debut of 11 new head coaches on the black college circuit, several on their first go-round as head coaches and many as head coaching veterans in new locations.
Let’s first look at match-ups involving the teams in the BCSP Preseason Top 10.
The No. 1 black college team, Alcorn State, plays Thursday at ACC power Georgia Tech (7:30 p.m.) in one of several games involving black college teams and FBS teams. Other Top Ten teams facing FBS opponents include No. 4 Southern at Louisiana Tech (6 p.m.), No. 5 Grambling State out West at Cal-Berkeley (2 p.m.), No. 6 Bethune-Cookman tangling with Miami (6 p.m.) in the debut of new Wildcats’ coach Terry Sims in his first head coaching gig and No. 8 Morgan State also travelling out West to take on the Air Force Academy (1:30 p.m.). On Sunday, No. 2 South Carolina State meets Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the MEAC/ SWAC Challenge in Orlando, Florida (3:30 p.m.).
In other games involving the Top Ten Saturday; No. 3 North Carolina A&T plays host to Shaw (6 p.m.) in one of two MEAC vs. CIAA match-ups. No. 7 North Carolina Central opens at home (6 p.m.) vs. Saint Augustine’s in the second MEAC vs. CIAA tilt.
No. 9 Virginia State, with new head coach Byron Thweatt at the helm, is at California (Pa.) and No. 10 Tuskegee hosts Clark Atlanta with new head coach Kevin Ramsey as the new CAU top man. Both games begin at 1 p.m. This is Thweatt’s first head coaching assignment. Ramsey was formerly head coach at Texas Southern..
Others making head coaching debuts include Delaware State and new head man Kenny Carter playing at Liberty (7 p.m.) and new Prairie View A&M head coach Willie Simmons facing crosstown rival Texas Southern in the 31st Labor Day Classic (8 p.m.)
Veterans in new spots with experience as head coaches include former Virginia State and Richmond head coach Latrell Scott making his debut as the Norfolk State head man at Rutgers (12 noon), former James Madison head coach and new Florida A&M head coach Alex Wood playing at South Florida (7 p.m.) and new Johnson C. Smith head coach Kermit Blount, who did stints at Winston-Salem State and Delaware State, leading the Golden Bulls into Wingate Saturday (6 p.m.).
Former Bethune-Cookman head man Brian Jenkins takes Alabama State into battle vs. Tennessee State in the John Merritt Classic in Nashville Sunday (6 p.m.). Benedict has former 15-year Albany State head coach James “Mike” White as its head man as the Tigers take on Livingstone in the Palmetto Capital City Classic in Columbia, S.C. (5 p.m.). And Albany State has replaced White with former ASU standout Dan Land on an interim basis as the Golden Rams play at Valdosta State Saturday (7 p.m.).