At first glance, it appears Morgan State's football opponent today, Virginia University of Lynchburg, is a good team to end the Bears' wretched start. Morgan State is 0-2, having lost to Air Force (63-7) and Illinois State (67-14) on the road. The Dragons are winless after losses to Elizabeth City (71-0) and Livingstone (48-19).
Morgan State is a Division I school with deep roots and a rich heritage. Virginia-Lynchburg is a private, historically black Christian college that began its Division II program in 2011 and has taken its lumps since, going 0-8 last year. The Bears have sent dozens of players to the pros. The Dragons turn out clergy.
It's Morgan State's home opener (4 p.m., Hughes Stadium), and coach Lee Hull's team smells a win. Trouble is, the game won't count. This past summer, the NCAA declared Virginia-Lynchburg a "noncountable" program, meaning its games aren't a part of official statistics, rankings or records. The reason? The program didn't meet NCAA accreditation guidelines.
"We have to show that all students on campus take class in the classroom," second-year Dragons coach Don Lee said.
The Bears got the news too late to change its schedule.
"We looked at the possibility but found nothing that could replace [Virginia-Lynchburg] that was as good a match for us," Hull said. "Obviously, I didn't know they were going to lose a game 71-0. But we just look at them as another opponent. We're not going to take this team lightly; we'll prepare just as we did for Air Force and Illinois State."
Regardless of Hull's explanation, the scheduling snafu has irritated alumni such as Eric White, a former Morgan football standout who questions how the university can charge admission to a game that won't count.
"It's disgusting to me," said White, who added that he's concerned about the state of the program after 10 players were ruled academically ineligible earlier in the season.
Though Saturday's game won't show in the standings, Hull said, "We definitely need a win to get our confidence back. We're still grinding, still working on fundamentals. We're still searching for our identity and who we are. We're hoping to get a 'W.'"
Sun reporter Childs Walker contributed to this article.