Steve Wilson's 13-game career as a college football coach has brought considerable accomplishments to him and Howard University.
Among his 10 victories are triumphs over Grambling's Eddie Robinson, the winningest coach in college football history, and South Carolina State's Willie Jeffries, the first black head coach at a Division I-A school (Wichita State).
Wilson's teams have won at the Meadowlands and the Los Angeles Coliseum before the biggest crowds ever to see Howard games. His Bison have recorded four shutouts. Howard's previous four shutouts were spread over 101 games.
Saturday in Orangeburg, S.C., Wilson's team has a chance to make another mark. It has been 18 years since Howard went on the road and defeated Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rival South Carolina State.
Wilson, who lost twice in Orangeburg while playing for the Bison, plays down the significance of the streak.
"When they tee it up about 2 p.m. Saturday, it won't matter much," said Wilson, whose team is 2-0 and has a six-game winning streak over two seasons. "Not one of our kids will be worrying about 1972."
The South Carolina State coach in 1972 was Jeffries. From 1984 through 1988, Jeffries was the coach at Howard (losing three times in Orangeburg). Now Jeffries is back for a second stint at South Carolina State, and he and most of his current staff recruited many of the Bison they will oppose.
Last year at Howard, the Bison defeated Jeffries in his homecoming, 10-7. The emotional ties still run deep.
"You don't want to lose to him, but you don't want to see him lose either," said senior nose tackle Brian Taltoan, a key figure on the Howard defense that is ranked No. 12 in Division I-AA.
Wilson said having Jeffries on the opposing sideline should not be the distraction it was in preparing for last season's meeting.
"That stuff with Coach Jeffries was a one-shot deal," said Wilson. "This year we should be past that."
Neither team has had a good look at the other.
In Howard's previous game, a 29-0 victory over Division II Morris Brown two weeks ago, starting quarterback Donald Carr (strained nonthrowing shoulder) and starting tailback J.J. Carpenter (hamstring) did not play. Howard's top pass rusher, defensive end Gary Willingham (pulled groin), saw only spot duty.
But the film Howard studies of South Carolina State's 41-0 victory over NAIA Presbyterian will not show nine Bulldogs, including six starters, who were suspended for curfew violation two days before the game.
All will be back this week, although quarterback Jasper Brooks, who started the opening 24-7 loss to Furman, may find himself behind sophomore Robert Hemby. In his first start Hemby rushed for 98 yards.
Brooks and Hemby had been slated for backup duty this season, but returning starter Otis Salley was dismissed from the team over the summer following his second arrest within a year on drug-related charges.
Regardless of who directs it, the Bison know they will have to stop Jeffries' dive-option offense, which they practiced against for years.
"Even if you know what is coming, that doesn't make it easy to stop," said Howard senior inside linebacker Mack Jones. "Green Bay had that power sweep all those years. Everyone knew that was coming and no one could stop it."