AFCA's Trailblazer Award Winners
by Tex Noel
(Bedford, Indiana USA)
The AFCA Trailblazer Award was created to honor early leaders in the football coaching profession who coached at historically black colleges and universities. Past Trailblazer Award winners include Charles Williams of Hampton (2004), Cleve Abbott of Tuskegee (2005), Arnett Mumford of Southern (2006) and Billy Nicks of Prairie View A&M University (2007). The award is given each year to a person that coached in a particular decade ranging from 1920-1970. (From the AFCA website; used by permission.)
• Charles Williams
-Hampton Institute; (23-7-1 .767)…
-1914-17, 1919-20, led the Pirates to three CIAA championships.
• Cleve Abbott
- Tuskegee University; (202-95-27 .665).
-Six Black College national championships.
-12 Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships…six undefeated seasons… 46 games, 1923-28.
-1930-1939: 66-34-7 record with five Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships; one Black College national title in 1930.
• Arnett “Ace” Mumford
-1924 at Jarvis Christian (Texas) College.
- Bishop (Texas) College (1927-29).
-Texas College (1931-35).
- 25-year career at Southern University, 169-57-14 overall record during that 25-year… won or tied for 11 Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championships and five Black College national titles (1948, 1949, 1950, 1954 and 1960).
- Mumford’s overall record at Jarvis Christian, Bishop, Texas College and Southern was 235-82-25, a winning percentage of over 70 percent. He won his first Black College national championship in 1935 while at Texas College.
-1940-1949, led Southern to a 67-16-6 record with five SWAC championships and back-to-back Black College national titles in 1948 and 1949.
-1947-1950, guided Southern to a 42-0-3 mark, winning three of his six national titles and four SWAC championships.
• William J. “Billy” Nicks
- Morris Brown College, 1930-35, 1937-39 and 1941-42… won more than 60 games, two Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference titles and a Black College National Championship in 1941.
- Prairie View A&M from 1945-47, assistant coach at the school in 1948-51, and head coach again from 1952-65. ..won more than 120 games while winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference title eight times and taking his teams to the Black
College National Championship five times…(winning record vs every school in the SWAC).
• Alonzo “Jake” Gaither, Florida A&M University
-In 1945, head football coach at FAMU.
- 25 seasons, 203-36-4 .844… won 22 SIAC Conference titles along with six Black College National Championships.
• Fred “Pops” Long -1921 at Paul Quinn (Texas) College. After recording just one victory in his inaugural campaign, Long guided Paul Quinn to a Southwestern Athletics Conference (SWAC) title in 1922.
- Wiley College in 1923, nine SWAC titles from 1923-47, including four in a row from 1927 to 1930. He also led Wiley to four Black College National Championships in 1924, 1928, 1932 and 1945. 1956 -65; SWAC title in 1957
-Long moved on to Prairie View A&M University in 1948 for one season, then spent the next seven years as head coach at Texas College (1949-55).
-45 years as a head coach was 227-151-31. Long’s teams also played in three post-season bowl games, the Angel Bowl, the International Bowl and the Orange Blossom Classic.
• Harry R. “Big Jeff” Jefferson
-1925, Bluefield State College; 21-game winning streak, Bluefield had back-to-back undefeated seasons in 1927 and 1928, culminating in two Black College national championships. During those seasons, the Bluefield “Big Blues” handed Howard their first loss in three years and defeated Morristown College 129-0 with 1,215 yards of total offense.
-1930 to coach at North Carolina A&T College, but returned to Bluefield two years later to coach the “Big Blues” to a season record of 8-0-1.
-1934, Virginia State University; champions in 1936, 1938, 1939 and 1945, and won a Black College national championship in 1936 with a 7-0-2 overall record.
-1949-57 guided Hampton University 32-41-3.
• Edward P. Hurt
- 1925 Virginia Theological Seminary and College; 15-11-4 record. -In 1929, Morgan State University; Athletic Director 1958-70, won six national championships, 14 CIAA championships; 11 undefeated seasons, and his 1943 team finished the season without allowing a single point. From 1931-38, Hurt coached the Bears to a 54-game winning streak.