HAMPTON—Rarely in 27 years as a head coach has Joe Taylor been on the wrong end of such domination.
Playing with an outside chance of winning the MEAC and making the playoffs, Florida A&M was handed a 25-0 spanking by Hampton University.
"Well," he said in the interview room, "this is not a good welcoming home."
No, it wasn't — at least, not on the field. The man who won 136 games for the Pirates from 1992 through 2007 went through a brutal afternoon.
As flat and uninspired as the Rattlers looked Saturday at Armstrong Stadium, that's how revved up and sharp the Pirates looked. The result left FAMU with its first shutout loss since 1988 — and Taylor with his first ever.
"I'm not surprised," Taylor said about the Pirates' energy. "I told the team they'd be energized for some obvious reasons. Take your hat off to them, because they played well."
Conspicuously absent from HU's inaugural Hall of Fame class, Taylor made his first trip to Armstrong's opposing sideline since 1989, when he was coaching at Virginia Union. He was 6-3 vs. the Pirates, including a 45-28 win last year in Tallahassee.
But his team had no chance on this Saturday. The Rattlers took only two snaps in HU territory during the first half.
On the first, they fumbled. On the second, they were intercepted.
"For all that was at stake, I don't know why we didn't play better," Taylor said. "We just didn't compete."
The trip was hardly a total loss. Taylor was able to see some old friends.
"From the time we landed, everybody everywhere was just so nice," he said. "I guess I really didn't know how much we meant to this area. It's been awesome."