Devout Winston-Salem State football fans are very likely still feeling the nagging numbness of last weekend’s 35-7 loss to Valdosta State (Ga.) in the NCAA Division II championship game. Watching your favorite team go into out-of-sync mode in the biggest game of the year can be a hard pill to swallow.
It wouldn’t be surprising to learn there are still folks out there who are endlessly analyzing what transpired in Florence, Ala. a few days ago. From the WSSU perspective, the game certainly had its share of what ifs and would’ves and could’ves and should’ves. Nevertheless, no amount of conjecturing can erase reality.
For now, history will have to wait. Florida A&M still has bragging rights as the only black college to ever win an NCAA football championship. It’s still true that no HBCU has ever won it all in Division II football.
The outcome of Saturday’s game is not the end of the line. It’s really a continuation of a vision that Connell Maynor brought to Winston-Salem State when he assumed command as head football coach three years ago. The Rams seem to be well on their way to firmly establishing themselves as possibly the Alabama of Division II.
Maynor’s playoff resume (5-2) against the nation’s best says a lot. Keep in mind that the two losses came in the national semifinals and the national championship game in back-to-back years. You can’t come much closer to winning a national title than that.
[pullquote]The outcome of Saturday’s game is not the end of the line. It’s really a continuation of a vision that Connell Maynor brought to Winston-Salem State when he assumed command as head football coach three years ago.[/pullquote]Here’s the point. Winning at the national level brings added credibility, the kind of credibility that attracts a greater number of top-notch athletes. It’s a built-in recruiting tool that gives WSSU a huge advantage when it comes to replenishing its roster with players who are just as good as, or maybe even better than the players on this year’s team that finished 14-1.
But that’s not the only part of this equation. Developing into a year-in-and-year-out national title contender should also stimulate increased funding from various sources. Even so, you don’t build a national powerhouse overnight.
Right now, Winston-Salem State has 28 football scholarships, which is far from the maximum of 36 that the NCAA allows for Division II. Maynor has said repeatedly that the Rams need to be “fully vested” (36 scholarships) in order to consistently compete at the national level. It’s no secret that the schools that fare well in post-season play are those schools with the resources to fund the maximum number of scholarships.
So now, there’s a question that’s begging for an answer. Just how serious are folks about coming up with viable ways for Winston-Salem State to become “fully vested?”
Here’s a four-word phrase for Rams’ backers to consider.
Do you still believe?