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There’s a new dog at the top

Former ACC basketball legend Charles G. “Lefty” Driesell used to use the quote, “The sun don’t shine on the same dog every day” (actually, that’s not the EXACT way the saying goes, but I can’t use it in its entirety because this is a family newspaper).

What that saying references is that no matter how much time it takes, eventually a new hound finds the shady hole.

It may take a while: just ask NASCAR driver and Sunday’s Charlotte race winner Carl Edwards about ending a 31-race losing streak or the NBA Golden State Warriors being back in the pro basketball finals for the first time in 40 years.

Where I’m taking this is the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association – yes, the CIAA that has been ruled, championship-wise, by Winston-Salem State University since the red-and-white returned to the fold. Some said their advantage was that from 2006-2010 when they were trying to gain membership into the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) they recruited a better grade of athlete because they were moving from NCAA Division II to D-I.  When they returned four years later to the CIAA, it left their athletic programs leaps-and-bounds ahead of the rest of the schools in the league.

Well, the ‘Ram Reign’ may be just about over; and I don’t think the Chowans and Elizabeth City States and Shaws are shedding any tears.

“Winston-Salem State is not the top dog in the CIAA anymore.”

Just a few short years ago, WSSU was winning just about every CIAA title in just about every sport. That’s not the case anymore and because of that the new king of the conference is Virginia State.

You want further proof, how about the fact that Virginia State was recently named the winners of the men’s and women’s all-sports trophies in the conference.

These awards are given based on a points system that takes into account all of the athletic programs. The Virginia State men won the C.H. Williams All-Sports Trophy and the Virginia State women won the Loretta Taylor Trophy.  This is sort of like the Commissioner’s Cup in the ACC or the NCAA’s overall Director’s Cup Trophy: the best of the best above all the rest.

Not only did WSSU not claim those top two awards; the Rams lost the CIAA football title and men’s basketball championship game went to Livingstone College, which didn’t aid the Rams cause.  Adding to the disappointment was WSSU losing the league’s Most Positive Game Environment Banner to Johnson C. Smith’s Brayboy Gym over their own usually-raucous Bighouse Gaines Center.

(Note to Chowan: Do a better job in 2015-16 of packing those seats in Garrison Stadium and the Helms Center and the way you holler, you can win this banner hands down!)

What it will take for WSSU to regain its top spot in the CIAA is rather simple – win more conference titles.

But that’s not so easily accomplished with the rest of the league doing a much better job of recruiting in all sports.

And there’s the case of keeping coaches. WSSU replaced its men’s basketball and football coach within the past two years and that had to disrupt their continuity. But take heart, because Latrell Scott won the Coach of the Year Award at VSU and he is now the head coach at MEAC school, Norfolk State; so attrition is going to strike everywhere.

So the other 11 CIAA members can get some encouragement, albeit possibly temporary, over the Rams’ demise. Just try to stay positive, keep doing what you’ve been doing, and remember that no matter how many fleas and ticks you’ve got, your ray of sunshine is still out there somewhere.

Gene Motley is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at gene.motley@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7211.