Delaware State Hornets football
||This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. (March 2009)|
|Delaware State Hornets Football|
|Athletic director||Derek Carter|
|Head coach||Kermit Blount
1st year, 0–0 (–)
|Home stadium||Alumni Stadium (Delaware State)|
|Conference||Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference|
|All-time record||336–372–12 (.475)|
|Postseason bowl record||–|
|Marching band||"The Approaching Storm" Delaware State University Band|
Norfolk State Spartans
The Delaware State University Hornets football team plays at 7,193-seat Alumni Stadium located in Dover, Delaware. The facility opened in 1957 as a multi-purpose for football, and track and field. The Hornets compete in Division I FCS, and are full-members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. They are a four-time conference champion and made their first-ever FCS playoff appearance in 2007. As of February 3, 2011, Kermit Blount has been hired as Head Football Coach.
Portland State Embarrassment
On November 9, 1980, Delaware State took on QB Neil Lomax and the Portland State Vikings and were defeated 105-0 in the most lopsided loss in Division I-AA Football history. This was marked as the low point for the team and with the help of new coach Joe Purzycki the Hornets rebuilt their program. He was hired as Delaware State's head coach in 1981, and compiled a 21-21-1 overall record, including a 15-5-1 mark in his last two seasons. Bill Collick, who was Purzycki's defensive coordinator, took over the program in 1985. He led the Hornets to the team's first MEAC championship in his first season.
Al Lavan Era
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After 2003's 1-10 debacle, Delaware State hired Alton "Al" Lavan as their new head football coach with the task of rebuilding the program once again. When Lavan was hired as head coach of the Hornets in January 2004, he promised to bring championship football back to Delaware State.
In 2007, the promise became reality.
Last season, he led the Hornets to a school-record 10 wins, their first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championship since 1991 and first ever appearance in the NCAA playoffs. In addition, the 2007 Hornets were ranked as high as No. 10 in the weekly SportsNetwork Football Championship Subdivision poll and were No. 15 in the final poll.
Delaware State was recognized as 2007 American Sports Wire Division I Black College National Champions and No. 2 in the final Sheridan Broadcast Network poll of Historically Black College & University teams.
Lavan was honored as the 2007 Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C., MEAC Coach-of-the-Year and Football Championship Subdivision Region II Coach-of-the-Year.
He was second in the voting for the 2007 Eddie Robinson Award, recognizing the top Football Championship Subdivision coach, and was awarded the 2008 Making A Difference Award by the DSU Alumni Association.
The Fort Pierce, Fla., native was also selected as head coach for the 2008 American Heritage Bowl/Navy-Marine Corps All-Star Classic in San Clemente, Calif. He guided the Northeast All-Stars to a 24-7 victory in the contest.
In four seasons at DSU, Lavan has posted an overall record of 29-16, including a 24-7 mark in MEAC contests. He has led the team to winning records in each of the last three seasons. In the three years prior to his arrival, the Hornets were 10-24 overall and 6-17 in the league. Delaware State had just one winning season in the eight years before Lavan took the job.
Lavan has 31-17 career record as a head coach, including a 2-1 mark during an interim stint at Eastern Michigan in 2003.
In 2006, the Hornets were 8-3 overall and 6-2 in the MEAC. It marked the first time that DSU posted back-to-back winning seasons since 1994-95, while the eight wins were the most by the team since 1991. Delaware State also appeared in the SportsNetwork Division I-AA Top 25 poll for the first time since 1992, coming in at No. 23 in week ten.
Lavan’s 2005 squad posted the Hornets’ first winning season since 2000. The team was 7-4 overall, and third in the MEAC with a 6-2 record. Delaware State was picked to finish sixth in the 2005 pre-season MEAC poll. The 2005 season also marked the first time since 1985 that the Hornets posted an undefeated record at home (5-0).
During his first season at Delaware State in 2004, Lavan led the Hornets to a 4-7 overall record and a 4-3 mark in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), DSU’s first winning record in conference play since 2000.
The year before Lavan’s arrival, the Hornets lost their first nine games en route to a 1-10 overall record.
The highlight of the 2004 season was Lavan’s first DSU victory, a 28-23 upset of eventual MEAC champ Hampton, the Pirates ‘only loss in a 10-1 regular season.
More than the on-field improvement, Lavan has brought a change of attitude to the program.
In addition to installing the first comprehensive strength and conditioning program in team history, he spearheaded changes in the team’s academic, recruiting, practice and discipline policies. The team is also benefiting from new audio/visual and computer equipment, thanks to a generous donation from prominent alumni spurred by Lavan’s outreach efforts to university supporters.
Lavan has also demonstrated concern for his players by initiating a program to bring local and nationally recognized speakers before the team to share their stories. Among the prominent individuals offering words of wisdom are former Hornet offensive lineman Matt Horace, currently an agent with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Joe Purzycki, former DSU head football coach and current bank executive; former pro quarterback and current NFL executive James Harris; and former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker.
The team’s commitment to public service is also a Lavan priority. The past four years, the Hornets have hosted holiday parties for area foster children, participated in reading programs at local schools, and provided mentoring services.
Lavan has also gained popularity around campus by "encouraging" his players to support other DSU sports teams. It is not uncommon to see Lavan and his troops cheering on the Hornets’ volleyball, softball or basketball teams during home games.
All of the above has made Lavan a popular guest on the banquet and speaking circuit during his short time in Delaware.
Lavan brought more than 30 years of professional and collegiate coaching experience to Delaware State.
Prior to accepting the Delaware State position, Lavan served for two seasons as an assistant coach at Eastern Michigan University. He was promoted to assistant head coach for the 2003 football season, and upon the late-season firing of then-head coach Jeff Woodruff, Lavan was named interim head coach. After he took over the 1-8 team, Eastern Michigan won two of its final three games.
In more than 18 years as a NFL assistant, Lavan’s resume’ includes stints with the Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, and the Kansas City Chiefs.
He was a member of George Seifert’s 1990 Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers’ coaching staff. That team included former Delaware State University standout John Taylor, who caught a touchdown pass in the 49ers’ 55-10 win over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV.
In Dallas, Lavan worked under Hall of Fame head coach Tom Landry. He helped Cowboy running backs Tony Dorsett and Herschel Walker combine for six 1000-yard seasons.
He helped lead Dallas to division titles in 1981 and ’85, and wild card playoff berths in 1980 and ’83.
Lavan has also served as position coach for NFL all stars Roger Craig, Priest Holmes, Tom Rathman, Ernest Byner, Robert Newhouse and Bam Morris.
Lavan’s collegiate coaching tenure includes stops at Colorado State, Louisville, Iowa State, Georgia Tech, Stanford, and Washington.
He helped guide Georgia Tech to the 1978 Peach Bowl, and Washington to the 1993 Rose Bowl and 1995 Sun Bowl.
After three straight losing seasons, Al Lavan was fired from Delaware State on December 2, 2010.
Hornets vs Blue Hens Controversy
The most controversial aspect of the DSU football program is the fact that it has never been scheduled by potential instate rival University of Delaware for a regular season game. This is highly unusual for two state universities, that play on the same athletic tier, to not play one another, especially one that is less than one hour's drive away from campus. Critics charge that this has to do with the fact that DSU is a Historically Black College. Furthermore, supporters of a game between DSU and UD claim that it would be akin to other instate rivalries and would be good for the state. In response to the charges of racism on UD's part, their supporters have pointed out that Delaware has scheduled and played regular season games against several other HBCUs such as Morgan State and North Carolina A&T. UD supporters have also claimed that DSU's team is not as strong as the Blue Hens, and that UD's program has made commitments to other universities that they must fulfill. Finally, UD supporters also note the fact that the two colleges routinely meet in other sports than football.
Delaware and Delaware State met on the football field for the first time on November 23, 2007 in Newark, DE in the first round of the NCAA Division I National Championship Tournament. The Blue Hens defeated the Hornets 44-7 in front of 19,765 people, the largest playoff crowd in Delaware Stadium history. However, the one sided win could potentially lend support to those who believe that the DSU program is not on par with their in-state rivals.[weasel words] Due to the increased notoriety of the two schools, this potential rivalry was revisited recently in a cooking contest between the two head coaches, K.C. Keeler of Delaware and Coach Lavan, which ended in a draw.
Hornets in the pros
- C Jamaal Jackson - Philadelphia Eagles
- DE Steve Coleman - Denver Broncos
- FB Steve Davis - Pittsburgh Steelers/New York Jets
- DE/DT Uhuru Hamiter - New Orleans Saints
- CB Victor Heflin - St. Louis Cardinals
- CB Tim King - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- FL Al Lawson - New York Jets (AFL)
- WR Shaheer McBride - Philadelphia Eagles
- WR Darnerien McCants - Washington Redskins/Philadelphia Eagles
- OG Rod Milstead - San Francisco 49ers/Washington Redskins
- LB Frank Nicholson - New York Giants
- DE Lybrant Robinson - Washington Redskins
- WR John Taylor - San Francisco 49ers
- WR Walter Tullis - Green Bay Packers
- WR Clarence Weathers - Cleveland Browns/New England Patriots/Green Bay Packers/Kansas City Chiefs
- OG Gordon Wright - Philadelphia Eagles (NFL)/New York Jets (AFL)
- "Lomax Strikes Again, 105 to 0 - Free Preview - The New York Times". Select.nytimes.com. November 10, 1980. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
- "Delaware State University Hornet Athletics". Desu.edu. Retrieved 2008-12-08.[dead link]
- Posted by beepbeep (January 14, 2008). "MEAC/SWAC SPORTS MAIN STREET: DSU Lavan to coach in American Heritage Bowl". Meacswacsports.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
-  Al Lavan Bio
-  DSU fires football coach Lavan
- Jeff, By (September 24, 2007). "ESPN Page 2 - Pearlman: Yellow Blue Hens". Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
- "ESPN - Delaware rolls past Delaware State in first round of playoffs - NCAA College Football Recap". Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
- [dead link]