Tuskegee Picked to repeat as Conference Champions

America's Winningest HBCU Football Team is expected to continue its winning ways in the 2003 season, according to the head coaches of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

The Golden Tigers of Tuskegee University garnered nine of the coveted thirteen first place votes predicting the winner of the Conference title - a title that has been at home in Tuskegee for four of the last five seasons. The announcement came during the 2003 Football Kickoff Luncheon and Press Conference Friday, July 25, in Norcross, Ga. Nearly 200 SIAC personnel, game officials, coaches, athletic administrators, and sports information directors of the SIAC were on hand for the annual event.

Noting that 15 starters will be back this season, Tuskegee Head Coach and Athletic Director Rick Comegy expects "the new guys to make it happen for us." Ten of Comegy's returning stars were named to the Pre-Season All-SIAC Football team, including Street and Smith magazine's 2003 HBCU All-America team running back Cortlandt Florence. Comegy, who is two wins away from becoming Tuskegee's second all-time Winningest football coach, has led his team to a 33-2 record in the 21 st century, the best winning percentage of any college or university in the state of Alabama.

Likewise, his impressive 64-17 record in eight seasons at Tuskegee has included boosting three defensive backs to the pros with multi-million-dollar contracts: the Chicago Bears Roosevelt Williams in 2001, the New York Giants Frank Walker and the San Diego Chargers and Tuskegee's highest-ever draft choice Drayton Florence in 2002. Drayton's cousin, Cortlandt, a pre-season All-American, was selected to Don Hansen's Football Gazette 2003 Pre-Season All-America Team. He was also named to the All-SIAC Second Team along with quarterback Terrence Jones, defensive lineman Dwayne Parker, linebacker Nathaniel Jones and cornerback David Musa. Wide receivers Samuel Brown, offensive lineman Bruce Lawrence, place-kicker Travis Gumbs, free safety Tommie George and cornerback Carlos Leggins were named to the All-SIAC First Team.

In addition to the capacity crowds at the Golden Tiger Den - the Cleve L. Abbott Alumni Bowl on campus - the 10 players-to-watch will showcase their talents before a national audience in the upcoming year. The Golden Tigers are planning to claw through the Golden Bears of Miles College on Major Broadcasting Cable Company network Aug. 31 at the A.G. Gaston Labor Day Classic in Birmingham. The network will also showcase the "rumble in the jungle" the following week in Columbia, S.C., as the Golden Tigers pounce the Tigers of Benedict College. Should coaches' predictions hold true, MBC will broadcast the Golden Tigers' competition with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association champions Dec. 20 at the Pioneer Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Tuskegee has a 3-1 record in the Pioneer Bowl's five-year history. The game would be the second Tuskegee would play in a professional stadium during the 2003 season. The Golden Tigers face the Pirates of Hampton University Sept. 20 in the P&G Ohio Classic at the 73,000-seat Cleveland Browns Stadium.