It didn't take much last year to persuade the Howard University administration to switch its home game with Florida A&M from its tiny stadium on campus to the more spacious, plush Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J.
Howard was swamped by FAMU, 286, before a crowd of 35,094. That is nearly five times as many people as Howard Stadium can hold and almost twice as many as the Bison have ever drawn at RFK Stadium.
So, Athletic Director Leo Miles and football Coach Doug Porter were happy to accept another date Saturday against four-time defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion South Conference champion South Carolina State at the Meadowlands at 1:30.
"We'd like to play there every year. It's good exposure and Giants Stadium is one of the best athletic complexes in the country," said Miles, who should know since he is an NFL official and sees his share of stadiums.
The main reason Miles wants to play at Giants Stadium is the approximate $25,000 guarantee the school would get.
"That's nearly twice as much as we would make at our stadium, if it was filled," said Miles.
Oliver Lofton, the executive vice president of the 100 Black Men of New Jersey, Inc. the sponsor of the game, said, "Howard was the perfect team for the game.
"It has the largest black alumni in the Northeast, it is a large school and is in the process of upgrading its sports program."
After being upset in last week's opener by Marland-Eastern Shore, 23-21, on a last-second field goal, Porter is looking for improvement this week. Howard looked ragged at times, especially in the secondary and on the special teams. The Bisons lost the ball six times on turnovers, were penalized 11 times and were burned for more than 200 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
"I look at it like Baltimore Colts Coach Ted Marchibroda did (before Monday night's win over New England). The only way to go is up," said Porter. "We have to cut down on our error and execute a little better. We're 100 per cent healthy and the stadium should be an incentive for our kids."
S.C. State (3-0) relies on a powerful running attack, keyed by quarterback Nate Rivers. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound junior, who would rather run than pass, has 157 yards rushing to rank third behind the speedy backfield of Jackie Reed (410 yards, two TDs) and Chris Ragland (248 yards, five TDs).
The Bulldogs have not worked up a sweat yet, embarrassing Virginia State, 47-0; Delaware State, 34-0, and a good North Carolina A&T team, 34-7.
What worries Porter even more is that the Bulldogs, who rushed for 95 per cent of their total 4,000-plus yardage last year, have come out throwing this year.
"Last week, Rivers threw 15 times. They have a more balanced attack now," Porter said.
Last year, S.C. State quarterbacks threw only 98 times in 12 games.
This will be the second sports venture sponsored by the 100 Black Men. Last year's game which, according to Lofton, cost nearly $200,000 to put on, netted the non-profit organization close to $50,000.
"No one will underwrite the game for us. We had to put the money up ourselves," Said Lofton. "Previously, we only dealt with civic, social and affirmative action issues in our state. But since our first game was successful we decided to sponsor another one, as well as a few other sports events in the near future."
A game between Morgan State and Grambling at Yankee Stadium Saturday night is expecting to cut into the attendance, but Lofton said he is expecting a crowd of about 30,000.
Porter and Miles said the organization did a fine job of pormoting and running the game last year.
"If we didn't play up there, we would have probably played on campus," said Porter. "We could have played at RFK Friday night but night games haven't been worth a dime to us. There weren't any problems at the Meadowlands last year, and we don't expect any this year."
That being the case, Howard's only headache will be S.C. State.