WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 23, 2012) – The 2012 Howard University Bison football season opener is slated for Saturday, Sept. 1 when Howard University takes on Morehouse College in the AT&T Nation's Football Classic at 3:30 p.m. in RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
The Classic renews the college football rivalry between the two teams dates back to 1923 when Howard defeated Morehouse 10-0. Students, alumni and supporters of HBCUs from around the country will gather in the nation's capital to celebrate the pride, pageantry and tradition attached to the game.
The Howard University football program is undergoing a major turnaround under Head Football Coach Gary Harrell. The new coach has insisted on player accountability and worked to instill team discipline. The hard work is paying off. Last year, Bison football won five games, eclipsing the total of three victories from the team's previous three seasons. In addition, Bison football won the important "statement games," including match-ups against Hampton University, Florida A&M University and Morehouse College. Howard also won its homecoming game last year, something the team had not accomplished in several years.
Coach Harrell is making it known that he is happy, but not satisfied with the progress so far and is looking for greater improvement in 2012. To that end, he has updated the team motto for the new season, calling it "Road to Redemption: No Roadblocks. No Shortcuts. No Excuses."
"Howard has a strong legacy of achievement," Coach Harrell said. "Every member of Howard University Football accepts the responsibility of representing the program with dignity and pride on and off the field."
The Bison defense made great strides last season under the leadership of defensive coordinator Ray Petty. After ranking last in several defensive statistical categories in 2010, the Howard defense ended last season in the Top 10 nationally in sacks, total defense, passes defended and in tackles for losses. The offensive line was one of the more improved units on the team due to the leadership of first-year offensive line coach Chennis Berry.
"Nationally, we have a reputation for being one of the best schools academically – not just among HBCUs and we have a renewed focus on athletic competiveness," said Louis "Skip" Perkins Jr., Howard University's Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Both women's and men's tennis as well as women's basketball were both conference finalists last year. The men's cross country team finished third in the conference.
Perkins added, "We expect more wins and a championship this year."
As was reported last spring, Howard University self-reported violations of NCAA regulations relating to the distribution of books and educational materials to athletes. This matter remains under investigation. However, Howard University will compete in all fall sports. Fifteen fall athletes will be withheld in two sports, football and volleyball. The University continues to work diligently with the NCAA. In order to protect the integrity of this review, we are unable to share additional details about the investigation at this time.
For more information about Howard Athletics, please visit www.howard-bison.com.