VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Established as an affiliated group in 1970, with founding schools Delaware State University (at the time known as Delaware State College), Howard University, University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina Central University (no longer a member institution) and South Carolina State University (then S.C. State College), the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) will kick-off its 38th football season when some of its member schools swing into action in late August.
Among MEAC affiliates seeing early action in the upcoming 2008 grid campaign include Hampton University, Norfolk State University, Florida A&M University, North Carolina A&T State University and South Carolina State University.
First up on opening day (August 30) will be the Hampton Pirates who will represent the MEAC in the fourth annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge when they collide with the Jackson State Tigers whoâ€™ll be carrying the banner for the SWAC.
Slated for a 2 p.m. start in Orlando, Fla., the Pirates-Tigers matchup will be shown live on ESPNU.
Games following the Hampton-Jackson State clash include Norfolk State battling Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) connected Virginia State in the annual Virginia Lottery Labor Day Classic, Florida A&M entertaining Alabama State, North Carolina A&T hosting CIAA affiliated Johnson C. Smith and South Carolina State challenging Central Florida in a game set to be played in Orlando, also.
Starting time for the Norfolk State-Virginia State fray is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Florida A&M versus Alabama State, North Carolina A&T against Johnson C. Smith and the South Carolina State-Central Florida duel are aslo slated to get underway at 6 p.m., as well.
In the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, the Pirates of Hampton will be trying to put the MEAC back in the winnerâ€™s circle again, after the SWAC got its first win in the young inter-conference series last year when Southern nipped Florida A&M.
Facing its second former Division I opponent, at the start of the season, in as many years, the South Carolina State Bulldogs will be trying to kick its season off with a win, as opposed to the loss they suffered in Colorado versus The Air Force at the top of the 2007 season.
In the Florida A&M-Alabama State clash, the Rattlers in their season and home opener, for the â€™08 slate, are hoping that them and new coach Joe Taylor, formerly head man at Hampton, will start a new era of success in Rattler Country.
Meanwhile, in Greensboro, the North Carolina A&T State Aggies while confronting the Johnson C. Smith Golden Bulls will obviously be trying to halt a losing streak that have them winless in the last two grid campaigns.
Eyeing the fast-approaching season during a visit to Orangeburg (S.C.) and the campus of S.C. State in mid-April, Dennis Thomas believes that fans are in for another season that should be contested right down to the wire before a 2008 champion is crowned.
"Weâ€™ve had very competitive seasons with our football teams for quite sometimes now, and I donâ€™t expect anything to be different during this season,"said Thomas, who is in his seventh year as commissioner of the MEAC. "Our coaches and players have provided a lot of excitement for our fans for many years. We count on this to continue in the coming season."
Heading into the 2008 season, the defending MEAC football champion is Delaware State.