Saturday’s 30-16 win was the first for North Carolina Central over North Carolina A&T in Greensboro since 2015. It was also the first game since A&T, a founding member of the MEAC along with NC Central, became a member of the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA). Oliver admitted that any non-conference win is treasured.
“We as a MEAC and I’m sure all the coaches on this call, we want to hold it down for our conference,” Oliver said. “So whenever we get an opportunity play somebody non-conference, you know, it means a lot for us, whether it’s a SWAC opponent, CAA or Big South, whomever it is, and you know how it affects recruiting.”
The CAA has been known as one of the top conferences in the FCS for years. NCCU matched up against three current CAA teams in 2022, beating New Hampshire on the road while splitting with North Carolina A&T and Campbell, who were both in the Big South last year before flipping over to the league formerly known as the Colonial Athletic Association. It will play three games total against CAA competition this year, facing Elon in Burlington and hosting Campbell at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium.
“The CAA is a great conference and they have a lot of top 25 teams,” Oliver noted. “But whenever we have an opportunity to play out of conference, I definitely love doing that because obviously when you beat those teams, it helps you with your national ranking.”
But make no mistake about it — beating a program that is not only the program’s oldest rival but also left the MEAC two years ago was a feather in the cap for the conference and the Eagles. And Oliver made sure to highlight that.
“With what you saw Saturday night in that stadium, they’re not going to have crowds like that except for homecoming, you know,” Oliver said. “So if you want to come play in a type of environment like that, if you want to come play in classics, the Circle City, the Magic City, whatever the case may be, the SWAC and the MEAC are where you need to be — they not going to be doing all that in the CAA.”
Quickly becoming known for his quirky, sometimes dry sense of humor, Oliver shared an anecdote from Saturday’s game that summed up some of the cultural differences between the current home of North Carolina A&T football and its previous one.
“It’s funny, the referees came to me talking about they don’t mind the bands playing while the ball is in play. That’s the CAA. That’s never been an issue,” Oliver said with a grin. “I said, Man, they play piccolos and flutes in that conference. They don’t have 100 tubas like our bands are going to have. But you know, it’s a different dynamic.”