By Kent Schmidt
College Sporting News
The Southwestern Athletic Conference has gone through a number of changes in the offseason and many of them were for the wrong reasons.
It is not abnormal for coaching changes, but the four moves that occurred in the SWAC were not to the four worst record teams from a season ago.
In fact, three of the four happened to teams with winning records last year.
Another change was that three schools were sanctioned by the NCAA Academic Progress Rate penalties.
This included last year's SWAC champion Texas Southern, Jackson State and Southern.
In April, Texas Southern dismissed coach Johnnie Cole while the school went through the NCAA investigation.
Cole had been the first coach for the Tigers to win a SWAC title in 42 years. Defensive Coordinator Kevin Ramsey, who guided the league's top defense a season ago, was hired as the program's interim head coach.
At Prairie View A&M, Henry Frazier — the 2009 Eddie Robinson Award winner and the two-time College Sporting News FCS coach of the year — left the program to take the same position at the MEAC's North Carolina Central.
Frazier had guided the Panthers to their first conference title since 1964 with the 2009 SWAC championship and long term defensive assistant Heishma Northern has taken over the top spot.
Grambling State lost Rod Broadway to another MEAC school — North Carolina A&T.
Broadway, who had come to Grambling from North Carolina Central, had led the Tigers to the SWAC title in 2008.
His replacement is not new to the northern Louisiana school as former coach and Tiger All-American quarterback Doug Williams comes back for his second stint as the head man.
Williams had led GSU to three consecutive SWAC titles from 2000-2002, but left after the 2003 season to become the NFLís Tampa Bay Buccaneers personnel executive.
Williams had been the Buccaneers' quarterback in the late 1970s before later leading the Washington Redskins to a Super Bowl championship. He moved from Tampa to become the UFL's Virginia Destroyers general manager last year but left that post to come back to the Tigers.
The final coaching change came at Alcorn State, where Earnest Collins left to coach his alma mater in the Big Sky's Northern Colorado. Collins' replacement will be a Brave alumnus and former Grambling head coach Melvin Spears.
Due to the academic sanctions, Jackson State and Southern are banned from postseason play this year, as well as the SWAC Championship game. Texas Southern did not receive a postseason ban, but lost 14.78 scholarships for 2011.
Despite the ban, JSU might be the best team in the league this year.
But should the Tigers finish with the best record in their Eastern Division, the second-place team would go to the SWAC title game and that appears to be Alcorn State or Alabama State.
Alabama State is the defending division champions but lost to Texas Southern 11-6 in the SWAC title game.
In the Western Division, reigning champions Texas Southern should see the most competition from Grambling State and Prairie View A&M.
As mentioned, Jackson State will not be eligible for the SWAC title but that does not mean they cannot finish with the top record.
The Tigers finished 2010 at 8-3 overall and lost all three within SWAC play but lost all three by a touchdown or less on the road.
Coach Rick Comegy's team will play these three opponents of Grambling, Alabama State, and Texas Southern at home this year. In total, the Tigers will return 11 starters.
The biggest reason for the optimism this year comes from senior quarterback Casey Therriault, who three for 3,436 yards and 31 touchdowns with just eight interceptions a year ago.
Therriault headed an offense that led the league in yardage (412.6) per game. He will have two returning senior All-SWAC receivers to find in wide out Marcellos Wilder (57 recept, 726 yards, 8 TD) and tight end Renty Rollins (30 recept, 336 yards, 6 TD).
The Tiger running game will be headed by junior B.J. Lee, who led the team a year ago with 439 yards and two scores.
He also aided Therriault in the passing game by catching 34 passes for 325 yards and another touchdown.
The biggest question mark on the offensive will be the line with just one returning starter back in senior tackle Roderick Gladney.
On the defense, senior end Donavan Robinson heads the line after tallying 18.5 tackles for loss to go with 52 total tackles a season ago.
Junior Milton Patterson (66 tackles, 13.5 TFL) the team's leading tackler a year ago at his linebacker spot.
Senior Anthony Johnson is back from a knee injury that ended his season early should head the secondary along with fellow senior Tim Dandridge (63 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 INT), who moves from a linebacker spot to safety this fall.
Alabama State comes into this season as the reigning division co-champions.
The Hornets advanced to the title game by defeating Jackson State 32-30 at home to tie the Tigers with a 6-3 league record and finished 7-5 overall.
This year's Hornet squad will return 17 starters from a young, seemingly overachieving squad from a year ago.
Alabama State could knock off JSU for the divisional crown again and even if the Hornets finish second, they would be the conference title game.
The biggest reason ASU went to the SWAC title contest a year ago was defense and the Hornets should continue to have a strong defense this season.
A year ago, the Hornets ranked in the top three in the SWAC in eight defensive categories with biggest being takeaways with 35 that topped the SWAC and fourth in all of FCS.
The defense will be headed by senior end Kynjee Cotton (51 tackles 11 TFL, 5 sacks) and junior linebacker Demarques Taylor (64 tackles, 8 TFL, 3 sacks) in the front seven.
Cornerbacks in junior Kejuan Riley (63 tackles, 7 INT) and senior Donovan Masline (50 tackles, 3 INT) should be the leaders in the secondary.
Where the Hornets need to improve is on offense. Alabama State ranked just eighth in the SWAC in scoring offense (20.8 ppg) and ninth in total offense (266.7 ypg) in 2010.
The quarterback position appears to still be a battle between last year's starter senior Devin Dominguez and FBS Troy transfer Greg Jenkins.
Dominguez was inconsistent last year. While he threw for 19 touchdowns, he also had 15 interceptions.
Should Jenkins win the job, Dominguez will likely move to the wide receiver position and be joined by senior Nick Andrews and junior T.C. McWilliams.
Alabama State's offensive line will be headed by junior tackle Terren Jones. He will be opening holes for a new rusher as 2010 leading back Andrew Pitts is not back.
Another team that looks to challenge for the divisional crown is Alcorn State. The Braves, however, will need to do with new leadership.
Spears is not new to the SWAC. He was a long-time assistant in the league before he guided Grambling during the 2004-2006 seasons and spent last season as the Alabama State offensive coordinator.
Spears hopes to bring some consistency to the program that has had four different head coaches in the past five years. He will have 14 starters back to work with.
The Brave offense last year revolved around freshman quarterback Brandon Bridge. Bridge is a signal caller that can use both his arm and legs and totaled 2,687 all-purpose yards last year with 27 total touchdowns.
His leading returning receiving targets will be senior Simon Collier (25 receptions, 358 yards, 1 TD) and junior Terrance Lewis (16 receptions, 281 yards, 3 TD). FBS Mississippi transfer in junior Andrew Harris could also be another receiving threat.
Alcorn State's running back situation should be fine with pair of juniors battling for carries in Gabriel Nash and Arnold Walker. Nash is the leading back after totaling 612 yards and six touchdowns. Walker was limited to just 10 carries but had 80 yards with those last year after sustaining an injury but is ready to go for this year.
The Brave defense took a hit due to defense with linebacker Herve Tonye-Tonye, last year's leading tackler being off the team.
The leaders for the rebuilding defense will need to be a trio of seniors, end Brandon Morris (31 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks), linebacker Kenneth Roby (39 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 2 sacks) and safety Jason Owens, (46 tackles, 1 INT).
Alabama A&M is coming off one of its worst seasons in the past two decades. In fact, the three-win total from a season ago was the lowest count since 1992.
Coach Anthony Jones has had his share of success in his nine years thus far —winning the SWAC title in 2006 and just two years ago had the Bulldogs in the SWAC title game again.
This year's team will have a wealth of experience as a number of younger players needed to play last year.
The Bulldog defense was the better half of the two sides of the ball a year ago and should be no different this year despite the loss of NFL drafted tackle Frank Kearse.
One end should be the strength upfront in senior Dee Lett after tallying 27 tackles and two sacks a season ago.
He will be joined upfront by a pair of FBS transfers in Marshall transfer Corey Hart and Ohio University transfer Melvin Payne.
Senior Willie Fuller (54 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks) should head the linebacker corps and junior safety Vernon Marshall (77 tackles, 8.5 TFL) should lead the secondary.
The AAMU offense should be a run orientated group that will be headed by junior running back Kaderius Lacey, who finished fifth in the SWAC in rushing a season ago with 710 yards.
The offensive line will likely be headed by junior center Joaquenssi Eugene.
The Bulldog quarterback could either be last year starter in junior Deaunte Mason (911 passing yards, 8 TD and 6 INTs, 212 rushing yards, 2 TD) or FBS Alabama-Birmingham junior transfer David Isabelle (564 passing yards, 3 TD, 2 INT; 396 rushing yards, 4 TD).
Both players are more running than throwing threats.
A school just looking for a win is Mississippi Valley State. The Delta Devils joined the Pioneer Football League's Valparaiso as the only winless team a season ago in coach Karl Morganís first year in Itta Bena, MS.
The team returns 13 starters on a team that was both last in defense and offense within the SWAC. In fact, the offense averaged just 10.3 points per game and the defense averaged giving up 36.3 points.
Sophomore Carl Davis won the starting quarterback job as a freshman a season ago, but was out after the second game due to a season-ending leg injury.
He has made a full recovery and is expected to get the job back since his replacement Oliver Hughes tore an ACL this past April and will be lost for season.
Senior wide receiver Paul Cox should provide Davis as his first receiving target after leading the team a season ago with 520 yards and five touchdowns.
The offensive line returns three starters in junior tackle Antonio Griggs, junior center Wesley Steele, and senior tackle Bryant Taylor.
The biggest offensive question will be the running game as the top four running backs are gone from last year's team.
The defense should be led within the secondary by junior Carlos Hollis (52 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 2 INT). Senior Armon Williams ((51 tackles, 2 TFL) moves to take the other safety spot after playing a linebacker spot a season ago.
At linebacker, senior Terrell Johnson is the top-returning tackler with 58 tackles.
Grambling State tied Texas Southern for the SWAC Western Division title last year but lost by a touchdown to the that group of Tigers.
GSU's Tigers wound up finishing at 9-2 overall and will welcome back on of the schoolís icons in Doug Williams as their head coach.
Grambling will also get TSU to come to northern Louisiana this year. Williams returns to a team that has 14 starters back, seven a piece on each side of the ball.
GSU will need to replace last year's SWAC offensive player of the year in running back Frank Warren.
The Tigers will also need to replace last year's starting quarterback Anthony Carrothers, whose dual threat attributes did not meet coach Williams's offensive plans. Carrothers transferred to former FCS school Winston-Salem State, which returned to the Division II ranks last season.
The quarterback spot has been a two-man race between two inexperienced players with the coach's freshman son D.J. Williams and sophomore Frank Rivers.
The Tiger running back situation is in a similar situation. Senior Kenneth Batiste and sophomore Dawrence Roberts are battling for the spot with Batiste with just a small amount of past experience.
The wide receiver spots are more experienced, but not by much, with just senior Mario Louis (16 receptions, 284 yards, 1 TD) and Bakari Maxwell (9 receptions, 196 yards) as the only experienced pass receivers. With the change of offensive philosophies by Williams, these two should see more passes thrown their ways.
One area that the Tiger offense is not inexperienced is the line. The group will be headed by junior tackle Sanford Banks, senior guard Bennie Peoples and junior center Julian Wyndon.
The GSU defense will be highlighted by All-American senior linebacker Cliff Exama and ends Jomarcus Savage and senior Antonio Leonard.
Exama recorded a team-high 106 tackles in only 9 1/2 games last season while Savage and Leonard combined for 20 tackles for a loss.
The secondary will have four seniors with safety Bruna Foster (48 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 3 INT) leading the way.
The Tigers also boast one of the top place kickers in the league with senior Zoltan Riazzo, who made 11-of-15 attempts a season ago.
Texas Southern hopes to return to the SWAC pinnacle this year without Cole, who won last year's SWAC coach of the year honors.
But interim coach Ramsey led TSU to the top SWAC defense in almost every category so it might not be as give of a concern as a team that lost their head man.
This year's Tiger squad will play two sub-D-I teams in Texas College and Central (OH) State and will not play any FBS teams so the chances are good that they could surpass the nine win total they had a year ago, which was a school record.
The Tigers have a total of nine starters back with just four back on defense.
The Tiger defense lost 2010 SWAC defensive player of the year in linebacker Dejuan Fulgham.
With this loss, the defensive line likely will be the strongest point with junior end Marquis Jackson (63 tackles, 18 TFL, 8 sacks) and senior tackle Jonathan Hollins (30 tackles, 17 TFL, 6.5 sacks) as the leaders.
Senior Zack Gallow (45 tackles, 5 INT) from his safety spot should head the secondary. The linebacker group should be headed by senior Tyler Crane (23 tackles, 3 TFL).
TSU boasted the top rushing attack in the league last year and that could continue this year with the return of the Tigers top back, All-American Marcus Wright (1,212 yards, 8 TD), who finished second in the league's top individual rushers.
Wright will also have a capable backup in senior Martin Gilbert (482 yards, 4 TD). The offensive line in front of either running back will be quite inexperienced with just senior center Quinn Criss returning.
The top two signal callers, Arvell Nelson and Riko Smalls, exhausted their eligibility.
A pair of juniors, Dantavious Parker, and Harry Brown, will try to take over at quarterback. Parker transferred from FBS Troy this offseason after he played two years and started a few games there.
There will be plenty of experienced targets to hit. Senior Joseph Anderson was the TSUís top receiver in 2010 with 56 catches for 818 yards and two touchdowns. Richard Samuel (18 receptions, 223 yards, 1 TD) will also be another capable target for the new man under center.
Prairie View A&M won the 2009 SWAC title but fell off a little last year in finishing 7-4 overall.
The Panthers, as mentioned, will also be under the new regime of Heishma Northern. This year's PVAM team will need to compete without 21 graduated seniors. In total, just 10 starters will return for the new head coach.
The Panther defense will likely carry the team this year.
Senior cornerback Moses Ellis should lead the secondary after he led all of FCS with eight interceptions a season ago.
Senior Adrian Hamilton (27 tackles, 8 TFL, 5.5 sacks) should head the line, while young, sophomore Raheem Caldwell ((55 TT, 5 TFL, 1 INT) appears to be ready to lead the linebackers.
On offense, the Panthers must replace quarterback K.J. Black as well as running back Donald Babers.
A pair of seniors, Jonathan Troast and Andrew McGlory, will look to replace Black under center.
The running back situation looks to be a combination of senior Jermaine Waddy and sophomore Ladarraye Groover. Waddy is the only one of the two with experience after rushing for 76 yards and a score in 2010.
Junior Spencer Nelson (25 recept, 323 yards, 1 TD) should be the Panthers top wide receiver this fall.
The Panthers have veterans on the offensive line, including All- American junior guard James Dekle and All-SWAC performer in senior tackle Tim Tusey.
Another team hoping to improve this year is Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The Golden Lions finished 5-6 last year after finishing 5-5 in 2009. Coach Monte Coleman's team hopes to break the .500 mark since winning the SWAC West Division title in 2006 (8-4). This year's team will bring back five members from each side of the ball to build upon.
The Lions, like most of the SWAC West Division teams, will rely on defense.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff will rely heavily on sophomore linebacker Jer-ryan Harris, who was the 2010 SWAC freshman of the year and the conferences tackle champion with 129. Fellow linebacker in junior Derrick Timber (83 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 1 INT) should give Harris a helping hand.
The secondary should be led by two senior cornerbacks in Joseph Brown (injured in 2010) and James Harrell (24 tackles, 3 TFL, 4 INT).
The defensive line has two stout senior ends in Brandon Thurmond (38 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks) and Michael Johnson (injured in 2010).
The Lion offense will be run orientated once again and will be highlighted by junior tackle Terron Armstead leading the way. UAPB has two quality backs to use in Justin Billings (388 yards, 3 TD) and Adrian Moore (328 yards, 5 TD). The questionable area is the quarterback and the wide receiver spots as Joshua Boudreaux and Raymond Webber respectively have graduated.
Looking to fill the quarterback spot are a pair of sophomores in Ben Anderson and C.J. Branch, both of whom have had no prior action in game play. The receiving side has a number of replacements but the new quarterback likely will find tight end T.J. Shelton as a good target after he caught five passes and all were for touchdowns a season ago.
Southern has typically been one of the top teams in the SWAC having won the SWAC title as recently as 2003. But that was during the era of legendary coach Pete Richardson, who was pushed out after the 2009 campaign.
The Jaguars fell off last year to just a 2-9 overall record with just one win within league play.
Southern was competitive in many of those contests. In fact, the Jaguars lost three of those contests by a touchdown or less.
Coach Stump Mitchell comes into his second season in Baton Rouge having starting to turn around the academic issues and will result from SU from being ineligible for postseason play for this year. This year, he hopes to bring some better results on the field with 14 starters back.
The Jaguars quarterback situation is open as sophomore Dray Joseph (1,117 yards, 5 TDs and 4 INT) and junior Jeremy McGinty (1,266 yards, 9 TDs and 7 INT) shared the position last year.
Joseph should get the spot this year due to an offseason injury to McGinty. Senior LaQuinton Evans (17 receptions, 329 yards, 5 TD) should be the quarterback's top receiving target.
The offensive line should be headed by junior tackle Chris Browne. The running game will be open but it appears a pair of juniors in Brandon Rice (139 yards) and Sylvester Nzekwe (248 yards, 5 TD) will battle for the starting spot.
Southern's defense will likely determine if the team will be improved this year after the Jaguars allowed 34 points per game in 2010.
Senior end Kedy Enabuele, (25 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 5 sacks) and sophomore linebacker (41 TT, 11.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks) should lead a defense that is moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 alignment.
The Jaguars have a bright spot in their special teams with placekicker William Griswold, who was an All-SWAC selection as a freshman a year ago. He made 15-of-20 attempts in 2010.
SWAC Games of the Week
Alabama A&M vs. Hampton @ Chicago, Sept.3
This SWAC vs MEAC matchup should be a good early season test for Bulldogs and be a good early season test how they will do against the Pirates.
Prairie View A&M @ Texas Southern, Sept. 10
This battle of the SWAC Texas schools should again be a good matchup to see.
Mississippi Valley State @ Alcorn State, Sept. 17
The first conference game for these two Mississippi SWAC teams should give us an idea if either will be in conference contention.
Alabama A&M @ Grambling State, Sept. 24
Can the Bulldogs pull off the upset in northern Louisiana or will the Tigers hold them off to get an early leg up in the SWAC standings?
Texas Southern @ Jackson State, Sept. 29
This Thursday night contest should give a nationwide audience a view of these two SWAC title hopefuls.
Alabama State @ Texas Southern, Oct. 8
This is another matchup of SWAC title hopefuls. Can the Hornets travel back from Houston with a victory or will the Tigers garner a home win?
Southern @ Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Oct. 15
These two teams are predicted towards the bottom of the SWAC standings. Can the winner of this one finish better than the predictions?
Mississippi Valley State @ Grambling State, Oct. 22
Can the Delta Devils pull off an up in Grambling or will the Tigers hold serve at home?
Alabama A&M vs. Alabama State @ Birmingham, Oct. 29
Who will come away with the win in this battle of Alabama in the SWAC?
Grambling State @ Jackson State, Nov. 5
These two are predicted at the top of their respective divisions. Will this be a preview of the SWAC title game?
Texas Southern @ Grambling State, Nov. 12
This matchup likely will determine the SWAC West title in this battle of the Tigers.
Alcorn State at Jackson State, Nov. 19
This contest could determine the SWAC East title. Will the Tigers use the home field to their advantage over the Braves?
Southern vs. Grambling State @ New Orleans, Nov. 26
This Bayou Classic matchup seems always to provide a good national television audience. Will this yearís contest hold true to the past games?
SWAC Championship Game @ Birmingham, Dec. 10
Who will come home with the SWAC Championship trophy this year?
Predicted Order of Finish
1. Jackson State
2. Alabama State
3. Alcorn State
4. Alabama A&M
5. Mississippi Valley State
1. Grambling State *
2. Texas Southern
3. Prairie View A&M
4. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
*Grambling selected to win the conference.
Offensive Player of the Year:
Casey Therriault, QB, Jackson State, Sr.
Defensive Player of the Year:
Cliff Exama, LB, Grambling State, Sr.
Biggest Shoes to Fill:
RB Frank Warren, Grambling State
Alabama A&M Bulldogs
Location: Huntsville, AL
Stadium: Louis Crews Stadium (21,000 Capacity)
Head Coach: Anthony Jones (64-41 @ AA&M; 82-54 overall), 9th Season
Who's Back: RB Kaderius Lacey, SS/LB Vernon Marshall, QB Deaunte Mason, WR G'Alonzo Milton, TE Bobby Goldsby, OC Joaquenssi Eugene, OG Justin Goodrich, OT Jamaal Johnson-Webb, DT Preston Nelson, LB Willie Fuller, FS Rico Porch, PK/P Chance Wilson.
Who's Gone: DL Frank Kearse, RB Tony Green, OL Russell Jackson.
Historical Fact: After three consecutive losses in the SWAC title game, Alabama A&M won its first-ever championship in 2006.
Last Year: The Bulldogs finished 2010 by losing six of their last seven games to finish just 3-8 overall.
This Year: Coach Jones as the longest current tenured coach, hopes to regain a winning record — something that his teams have done all his seasons up until the past two years.
Alabama State Hornets
Location: Montgomery, AL
Stadium: Cramton Bowl (21,800 Capacity)
Head Coach: Reggie Barlow (19-26 @ ASU & Overall), 4th Season
Who's Back: WR Nick Andrews, CB Kejuan Riley, QB/WR Devin Dominguez, RB/KR Quendarius McKibbon, WR T.C. McWilliams, OT Terren Jones, C Edmond Davis, DE Kynjee Cotton, DT Quin Bohannon, LB Demarques Taylor, FS Marcus Solomon, PK Andrew Lyons.
Who's Gone: DB Jacques Rickerson, P Anthony Speight.
Historical Fact: ASU has won two SWAC titles in their history in 1991 and 2004.
Last Year: The Hornets narrowly missed another conference title but fell 11-6 to Texas Southern in the SWAC championship game to finish 7-5 overall.
This Year: ASU hopes to duplicate its Eastern Division crown and garner a third SWAC title.
Alcorn State Braves
Location: Lorman, MS
Stadium: Jack Spinks Stadium (22,500 Capacity)
Head Coach: Melvin Spears Jr. (0-0 @ Alcorn State; 20-14 overall) 1st Season
Who's Back: QB Brandon Bridge, CB Jamison Knox, RB Gabriel Nash, RB Arnold Walker, WR Simon Collier, WR Terrance Lewis, WR/RS Jacquez Caldwell, OC Isaac Williams, OG Avis Sheldon, OT Nathan Fears, DE Brandon Morris, DT Stephen Howard, LB Kenneth Roby, SS Jason Owens, FS Derwin Brown.
Who's Gone: DL Malcolm Taylor, DB Jameson Smith.
Historical Fact: The Braves are on their fourth head coach with hiring of coach Spears since 2007.
Last Year: ASU finished the season at 5-6 but was an improvement after a 4-7 mark in 2009.
This Year: Former head coach Earnest Collins left the Braves in the offseason and bring in former Grambling headman Spears in the hopes of continuing the improves in Lorman.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions
Location: Pine Bluff, AR
Stadium: Golden Lions Stadium (12,500 Capacity)
Head Coach: Monte Coleman (13-20 @ APBU @ Overall) 4th Season
Who's Back: OT Terron Armstead, LB Jer-ryan Harris, RB/RS Justin Billings, RB Adrian Moore, WR/QB Rontrell Bailey, WR Dezmond Beverly, TE T.J. Shelton, OC Christopher Wilson, OG Colton Jones, DE Brandon Thurmond, DE Theodore McNeal, DT Damien Lee, LB Derrick Timber, CB James Harrell, SS Jarvis Webb, SS Ryan Shaw, FS Jermaine Graham, PK Chris Ewald.
Who's Gone: WR Raymond Webber, DL Ibraham Abdulai, DL Arthur Thomas, QB Josh Boudreaux.
Historical Fact: The Lions have made it to the SWAC title game just once in their historyóa 22-13 loss to Alabama A&M in 2006.
Last Year: The Lions started the 2010 season winning four of their first seven games but lost three of their last four to finish 5-6 overall.
This Year: Coach Colemanís team hopes to finish stronger this year and improve on the five win total.
Grambling State Tigers
Location: Grambling, LA
Stadium: Eddie G. Robinson Stadium (19,500 Capacity)
Head Coach: Doug Williams 52-18 @ GSU, 55-26 Overall) 7th Season (1st since 2003)
Who's Back: OT Sanford Banks, LB Cliff Exama, WR Mario Louis, WR Bakari Maxwell, OC Julian Wyndon, OT Aaron Jackson, OG Bennie Peoples, DE Antonio Leonard, DE Jomarcus Savage, DT Antoine Rogers, LB Jacarde Carter, S Bruna Foster, S Jabari Powell, CB Dominic Bell, CB David Stuckman, PK Zoltan Riazzo, P Fabian Carter.
Who's Gone: RB Frank Warren, KR Kiare Thompson.
Historical Fact: Legendary former Tiger coach Eddie Robinson had a 408-165-15 mark in his 55 years at Grambling. He retired with more victories and more games coached than anyone in college history — only surpassed by D-III St. John's (MN) coach John Gagliardi since.
Last Year: The Tigers tied Jackson State for the SWAC East title but lost to JSU to give them the SWAC title game spot in finishing 9-2 overall.
This Year: Former Coach Rod Broadway left GSU in the offseason and former coach and former GSU All-American Doug Williams takes over the reins again after leaving the school following the 2003 season.
Jackson State Tigers
Location: Jackson, MS
Stadium: Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium (65,000 Capacity)
Head Coach: Rick Comegy (32-24 @ JSU, 140-75 overall) 6th Season
Who's Back: QB Casey Therriault, DE Donavan Robinson, WR Marcellos Wilder, WR Rico Richardson, TE Renty Rollins, OT Roderick Gladney, OC Stephen Kapler, OT Aristacus Forster, DT Jonathan Billups, LB Milton Patterson, LB Todd Wilcher, LB Mike Hill, CB Qua Cox, S Tim Dandridge, P Reed Gallagher.
Who's Gone: DB Jalil Johnson.
Historical Fact: The Tigers are all-time 0-12 in postseason games. They last played in the FCS playoffs in 1997 — a loss to Western Illinois.
Last Year: The Tigers tied for the Eastern Division title but fell to Alabama State in the season to give them the SWAC title game appearance.
This Year: Amid NCAA academic violations, Jackson State will be ineligible for any postseason play including the SWAC championship game, but still return talent that could challenge for the best record in the conference.
Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils
Location: Itta Bena, Mississippi
Stadium: Rice-Totten Stadium (10,000 Capacity)
Head Coach: Karl Morgan (0-10 @ MVSU & Overall) 2nd Season
Who's Back: WR/PR Paul Cox, S Carlos Hollis, QB Carl Davis, WR Chris Williams, OT Antonio Griggs, O C Wesley Steele, OT Bryant Taylor, OG Kevin James, DE Javaris Fritz, DE Leployer Franklin, DT Robert Simpson, LB Terrell Johnson, LB Marcus Thompson, CB Marquis McFadden, CB Michael Boykins, S Jeremy Langston, S Armon Williams, PK/P Carlos Sanchez.
Who's Gone: LB Rory Malone.
Historical Fact: MVSU last had winning seasons in 2005 and 2006, which was its first since 1995. The Delta Devils have not had a winning season, however, since.
Last Year: The Delta Devils were one of just two FCS programs that had a winless season — joining Valparaiso.
This Year: MVSU hopes to break their current 11 game losing streak that they currently have.
Prairie View A&M Panthers
Location: Prairie View, TX
Stadium: Blackshear Field (11,000 Capacity)
Head Coach: Heishma Northern (0-0 @ PVAMU & Overall) 1st Season
Who's Back: OG James Dekle, CB Moses Ellis, WR Spencer Nelson, TE Donald Law III, OT Tim Tusey, OG Langston Patterson, OT Thad Wesley, DE Adrian Hamilton, DE Jarvis Wilson, NT Ryan Love, LB Raheem Caldwell, LB Marcus White, CB Lester Butler, CB JohnMark Henderson, SS Adrien Grant.
Who's Gone: QB K.J. Black, DL Quinton Spears, RB Donald Babers, WR Shaun Stephens, LB Max Sencherey, DB Chris Adingupu.
Historical Fact: The Panthers won their first SWAC title in 2009.
Last Year: Prairie View regressed to just a 7-4 mark after being selected as the conference favorites coming into last season.
This Year: The Panthers will welcome a new head coach Northern after former coach Henry Frazier left for the same position at the MEAC's North Carolina Central and will have to rebuild a team that lost 25 players from a year ago.
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Stadium: A.W. Mumford Stadium (28,400 Capacity)
Head Coach: Stump Mitchell (2-9 @ SU & Overall) 2nd Season
Who's Back: OT Chris Browne, DE Kedy Enabuele, QB Dray Joseph, QB Jeremy McGinty, RB Sylvester Nzekwe, FB Lee Mitchell, WR/KR LaQuinton Evans, WR/RS Charles Hawkins, OG Taylon Jones, OC Lee Almanza, NT Casey Narcisse, LB Anthony Balancier, LB Corey Ray, CB Virgil Williams, SS Demetric Rogers, FS Levi Jackson.
Who's Gone: OL Ramon Chinyoung.
Historical Fact: Southern had five conference titles under former Coach Pete Richardson, including a trio of crowns from 1997-99, but none since winning the 2003 SWAC championship game.
Last Year: In Coach Mitchell's first season, the Jaguars finished just 2-9 with just one win in conference play.
This Year: Southern hopes to break a six-game losing streak and improve on the two win total.
Texas Southern Tigers
Location: Houston, TX
Stadium: Delmar Stadium (12,500 Capacity)
Head Coach: Kevin Ramsey (0-0 @ TSU & Overall) 1st Season
Who's Back: RB Marcus Wright, DE Marquis Jackson, QB Harry Brown, RB Martin Gilbert, FB Randall Newsome, WR Joe Anderson, WR Richard Samuel, TE Kirk Fitzhugh, OC Quinn Criss, OG Daryl Stevenson, OG Donovan Stevenson, DT Jonathan Hollins, DT LaGrone Shields, LB Tyler Crane, S Zach Gallow, S/RS Derricus Purdy, CB Kydarian Wilkins, PK Robert Hersh, P Francois Ejiofor.
Who's Gone: OL Charles Smith, OL Skylar Trimble, KR William Osborne.
Historical Fact: TSU ended the longest title drought in SWAC last year by winning the title.
Last Year: The Tigers defeated Alabama State 11-6 to win the SWAC title for the first time since 1968 and finished 9-3 overall.
This Year: Johnnie Cole was let go this past spring due to academic issues and last year's defensive coordinator Kevin Ramsey has been chosen to lead the defending champions through the 2011 season.