Almost six years since its last victory, Prairie View
DALLAS (AP) _ Almost six years since its last victory, Prairie View A&M has one last chance to avoid going down in the record books for playing the worst stretch of college football since people began keeping score.
The skid isn’t likely to end Saturday night when the Panthers (0-4) take on Southwestern Athletic Conference rival Grambling State (1-2) in the Cotton Bowl.
Prairie View last beat Grambling in 1986. The Panthers last beat anyone on Oct. 28, 1989, when they topped Mississippi Valley State 21-12.
Since then, Prairie View has gone through four head coaches, five seasons and 50 straight losses. The only similar slump was by Division III Macalester (Minn.), which lost every game from 1973 until the 1980 season opener.
In addition to the futility mark expected to be set Saturday, it had been hoped that Tigers coach Eddie Robinson would extend his career victory record to another plateau: 400 wins.
But a controversial, last-second touchdown by Central State last Saturday left Robinson still seeking No. 399.
No offense to Robinson, but most Prairie View people are glad the night won’t be doubly historic.
Panthers fans know what it’s like to be on the losing end of a Robinson milestone. Prairie View was the victim for Robinson victories No. 315 (surpassing Amos Alonzo Stagg) and No. 324 (breaking Paul Bryant’s record).
Those games were in 1984 and 1985 _ coincidentally, also in Dallas _ back when Prairie View had numbers other than 0 in their win column at season’s end. They had a non-losing year, 5-5, as recently as 1988.
Then a storm of corruption ravaged the school. A fraudulent expense-form scam involving the athletic department was uncovered, as were several other scandals that dirtied the school’s image. In response, the school president eliminated all sports but track and field beginning in 1990.
A year later, football returned _ without scholarships.
Five years later, there’s still no scholarships. And no victories.
``You saw what happened at SMU when they had the death penalty and lost all their athletes,″ said head coach and athletic director Hensley Sapenter. ``We’re going through the same thing in trying to get our program rebuilt.″
Sapenter, an alumnus who has been on the job only 10 weeks, is coaching a team of players that other schools didn’t want. He even has a kicker whose debut last week was his first time ever on a football field during a game.
With that kind of competitive imbalance, it’s no wonder the Panthers’ streak has been marred by losses such as 77-7, 63-3, 49-0 and 66-0.
Those aren’t the worst in the six-year span; those are just the scores of the last four games against Grambling. (For the record, Prairie View has come as close to victory during the streak as 12-8 and as far from it as 92-0).
Robinson, who is in his 55th year coaching Grambling, doesn’t like hearing this should be another blowout victory for his Tigers. Like any coach going into a mismatch, he claims not to be overlooking his opponent.
``They’re making great adjustments and they’re trying hard to execute,″ Robinson said. ``With the size that they have, anything can happen. I’ve been around long enough to know that the only thing certain about football is uncertainty.″
Grambling is led by quarterback Kendrick Nord, whom Robinson says ``has all the potential to be one of the greatest quarterbacks in the land, but he’s the sorriest quarterback in the league right now.″
Nord, who threw for 3,017 yards and 32 touchdowns last season, is 27 of 71 for 331 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Robinson blames Nord, a senior, for reading too many press clippings from his stellar junior season and believing success is automatic. Robinson chides him by saying ``last year’s kisses ain’t no good this year.″
Prairie View doesn’t really have any star players, just guys with interesting stories _ such as the running back who hasn’t won a game since his freshman year of high school.
The Panthers’ best play this season came in last week’s 44-6 loss to Tarleton State when quarterback Reginald Prudhomme threw a 59-yard touchdown pass to Kerwin Owens.
That score gave Prairie View its first lead of the year, 6-0. It went on to allow 44 unanswered points. No wonder the Panthers have been outscored 197-20 this season.