Last month, Connell Maynor was inducted into the North Carolina A&T Athletics Hall of Fame. On Thursday, Maynor will lead his Hampton Pirates into Aggie Stadium hoping for a big win on national television. That paradox pretty much sums up Hampton’s head coach’s relationship with his alma mater: ever-evolving but always entertaining.
The Fayetteville, NC native started out as an adversary of A&T, as he began his career at rival Winston-Salem State. Maynor led to WSSU to a CIAA Championship in 1987, his lone season in red-and-white. The man they called Sweetness left prior to the start of the 1988 season, following his head coach William “Bill” Hayes to the Rams’ rivals.
Success followed Maynor to Greensboro, where he became a building block to Hayes’ Aggie dynasty that would win three MEAC Championships in the 1990s. Maynor excelled individually, winning conference player of the year honors back-to-back (90, 91) and helping A&T to the first of back-to-back titles in 1991.
Maynor would spend the next decade of his life playing football in the Arena League (and serving as Jamie Foxx’s body double in Any Given Sunday) before returning home as an offensive coordinator at Fayetteville State. Once again, Hayes called upon his former QB to follow him, this time persuading him to come work as the program’s head football coach. (Ironically, Maynor would fill a slot vacated by another one of Hayes’ protegees, current Del State coach Kermit Blount.)
His time at WSSU would prove more successful than anything anyone could have imagined, as he flipped the school’s record from 1-10 in 2009 to a respectable 8-2, including a signature win over…North Carolina A&T.
Following the 2010 season, Maynor interviewed for the head coaching job at A&T, but reportedly turned the job down after he was offered it only because Rod Broadway turned down the position. Eventually, Broadway took the job, and Maynor built WSSU into a legit Division II title contender, leading his team all the way to the D2 National Title Game in 2012 and a 45-6 record overall.
Despite the success Maynor experienced at WSSU, his alma mater never completely left the picture. WSSU and A&T never met after the 2010 season, despite being just half-an-hour down the road from each other. As the years went by, people developed theories as to why the school’s shut down one of the state’s best collegiate rivalries. While A&T supporters would argue that WSSU’s asking price (a home-and-home series, 40 percent of the gate) was too steep to play a D2 school, Maynor said that many FCS schools were afraid to play WSSU.
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Broadway apparently felt those remarks were directed at his program, and suggested to 102 Jamz Wild Out Morning Show that Maynor’s WSSU squad put on their “big boy pants,” and travel to Greensboro to play A&T in the summer of 2013.
Fast forward 18 months, both Broadway and Maynor are now at the same level, attempting to restore their squads to MEAC glory and build playoff teams at the FCS level. The coaching matchup between these two will be a key component of Thursday night’s game. Their offensive styles contrast, as Broadway like to ground and pound while Maynor has never seen a pass he didn’t like.
Whatever the results of Thursday night’s game, it is likely to be another entertaining chapter in the saga between Connell Maynor and North Carolina A&T.