In 1993, the high-top fade was among the popular hairstyles, Phat Farm streetwear was in its infancy and Howard was the best football team in the MEAC.
That year Howard, led by then-quarterback Jay Walker (now ESPN college football broadcaster), went 6-0 in the conference and 11-1 overall en route to a Black college national championship.
Fast forward 29 years later, the Bison are one win away from claiming a share of the 2022 title along with NC Central if it beats Morgan State on Saturday.
This development didn’t seem possible when Howard was picked to finish fifth in the preseason MEAC poll. And it certainly wasn’t fathomable when Bison started the season 1-5 amid a schedule that featured five straight games away from Washington D.C. to begin the year.
“I think that no one expected us to have a chance to do any of the things we’re doing except the people who are in this building that we would have a chance to be sitting here,” said Bison head coach Larry Scott.
Howard (4-6, 3-1 MEAC) turned its season around after back-to-back wins over Delaware State and Norfolk State in late October. After being humbled by Celebration Bowl qualifier NC Central on Nov. 5, the Bison picked up a 28-14 statement win over longtime conference bully South Carolina State last Saturday.
“We had a football team that believed and kept believing that there good enough and know that we’re building and trending in the right direction,” Scott said.
The turnaround is a far cry from a 2021 season that saw the program win one conference game. But before Scott even fully inserted himself, the Bison had to overcome a lot of challenges.
The former FBS assistant was hired in 2020 months after-then head coach Ron Prince resigned following being placed on administrative league amid allegations that he verbally abused players.
Then the football team — like many others that year — had to battle pandemic-related setbacks that impacted almost every aspect of its program. A historic recruiting class in 2022 signaled a possible resurgence.
Howard, explained Scott, doesn’t do its work through the transfer portal and has to navigate around the school’s lofty academic requirements. What Howard faces in building a program was described as a unique challenge that “takes a whole different spin.”
A win at Morgan State would be the first step in continuing the process of constructing a consistent contender.
“We have to build but we are going to build in a different way,” he said.