First-year Morgan State football coach Lee Hull leads his team in practice in in Richmond, Va., on Nov. 24, 2014.
First-year Morgan State football coach Lee Hull leads his team in practice in in Richmond, Va., on Nov. 24, 2014. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

If Morgan State can defeat Norfolk State this Saturday, the team will post back-to-back .500 campaigns for the first time since the program went 6-6 in 2008 and 6-5 in 2009.

But one can wonder if the Bears (4-5 overall, 4-3 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) might've achieved more if not for a university snafu.

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Before Morgan State began its quest to repeat as MEAC champion, the school announced Sept. 4 that several players were ruled academically ineligible after an NCAA review found flaws in mandated academic requirements. The review, which determined that certain student-athletes were not certified to play this season, sidelined at least five starters including junior running Herb Walker Jr., who set a school single-season rushing record with 1,408 yards and scored 15 total touchdowns (13 rushing) in 2014.

Coach Lee Hull acknowledged that the team might have enjoyed greater success this fall if not for the university's mistake.

"I feel that we could have been a better football team," he said Tuesday morning during his weekly conference call organized by the MEAC. "We would have been an older football team. We played three very good football teams that we lost to. So I would have liked to have seen – if we had all of our guns – what the outcome would be, but the situation is what it is. We dealt with it, and I'm working with the university to make sure this does not happen again and so we're not in this situation. But I'm not going to look back and say what if. That's the situation and hand we were dealt, and we played with that all season. I think we had a very good season in spite of that."

Coaches can accept injuries sapping teams of players and depth, which makes what happened two months ago even more frustrating. And Hull, who is in his second year as the head coach, wasn't even around when the academic blunders occurred.

"Obviously, I was not here when those things had gone on, but I'm the head coach of this football team, and I'm working with the university to make sure this does not happen again in the future," he said. "That was the team that we had, and we played with them, and I thought we did a great job. We had a young team, and they fought through some adversity. I enjoyed this football team, I love these guys, and I'm happy where we are as a football team and as a program."

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