ATLANTA — South Carolina State University head coach Buddy Pough knows the questions are coming. Every year a reporter either asks directly or indirectly if he is getting ready for the end of the road.
Heading into his 21st full season as head coach at his alma mater, Pough made it clear at the MEAC/SWAC press conference on Wednesday that he’s not planning on going anywhere right now.
“It’s pretty easy — even though I’ve been doing this for 40-some years now — to get up and go to work in a way where I’m not thinking about retiring,” Pough said. “It is a pretty safe bet that you never hear me say, ‘man, I sure don’t want to go to work today.’ This is a wonderful opportunity for me to get out of my house and go out.”
The players, Pough says, help keep him young.
“I don’t even wear my phone the way you old folks wear your phone. You know y’all got clips on your side. The boys said ‘No, you don’t wear it like that.”
South Carolina State looking to rebound, represent the MEAC
Buddy Pough has compiled a compelling 146-87 record throughout his career, which includes eight MEAC titles and three HBCU national titles, including a Celebration Bowl victory over Jackson State in 2021. The 2022 season wasn’t nearly as fruitful, though, as South Carolina State fell to 3-8 overall, 1-4 in MEAC play.
South Carolina State will open the 2023 season on a big stage, taking on Jackson State in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge in a game that will be broadcast on ABC.
Pough talked about the difference between the two conferences, and his team’s readiness to play on August 26.
“The league is somewhat of a rival of ours. It’s just a regular deal,” Pough said. “Anytime we play one of the teams over there — and they’ve taken a couple of our teams — they’ve been some things that have gone on that have created some rivalry kinds of style of thoughts with our teams. So anytime you look across the ladder right there and you see a team that you really know is coming to get after you, the way Jackson is going to get after you, I think it’s pretty easy to get yourself up to play.”
When it comes to the MEAC, nobody knows more about the league than Pough. He entered college the same year that the league was formed (1971) and then served as an assistant for nine years before eventually getting the job back in 2002.
“We think that the style of ball between the two leagues is a little bit different, the SWAC’s a little bit larger league, flashier, they got bigger stadiums, some of those kinds of things we think that our league is kind of a “down home” kind of league,” Pough said.
That being said, the MEAC holds a 10-5 lead in the series. That includes a 3-1 record by South Carolina State University under Buddy Pough.
“But everybody in our league is pretty much even. Anybody on any date can beat you. I guess parity between us sometimes gives people a little bit of confidence that they think that we’re not very good. And the fact that we all pretty good, you know, we feel like is maybe the one characteristic that kind of fools people a little bit about us.”