South Carolina State University head coach Buddy Pough is a certified coaching legend in the HBCU ranks and beyond. Now the elder-statesman of coaches of not only the MEAC and HBCUs, but of FCS and Division I football, he’s seen a lot of coaches come and go.
Pough spoke glowingly of Oliver on Monday’s MEAC media call ahead of the matchup between the two programs. That’s something he often does, but it’s clear that he has an affinity for the fifth-year head coach.
“Coach Oliver is one of the new is one of those new young hot coaches in America. You know, he’ll be coaching at one of those far west schools pretty soon,” Pough said, after referencing NCCU’s loss to a Pac-12 school. “Between he and Willie Simmons down at FAMU, I don’t know which one of those guys I’d rather be if I had a chance to go back 20 years of my lifetime. I’d like to come back as Trei Oliver or Willie Simmons, you know one of them kinda deals. But I’m old and decrepit and whatever, trying to figure out how to… how to match up with these young whippersnappers.”
Not that he’s rushing Oliver out the door. Once Buddy Pough resigns his post, Oliver will be the longest-tenured coach in the six-team MEAC.
“You’d hope that our schools — especially when they got a great fit like that — would make sure that they do everything they could to maintain that relationship over time,” Pough said. “Trei is a tremendous football coach and he’ll be in another blink of an eye to where I am.”
Oliver led his alma mater to the 2022 MEAC title and claimed the HBCU national title after winning the Celebration Bowl. But for all of his success there’s one thing he hasn’t done — beat Buddy Pough.
“Hopefully it won’t happen this time. I can tell you what. He’s got the crew to do it, and he’s the football coach to do it.”
Each of the last two games came down to the wire, with Pough’s South Carolina State squad getting a win in Durham in 2021 that sent it to the Celebration Bowl and one in Orangeburg that had the folks in Durham worried.
“I guess it’s mostly just we’ve been fortunate and hopefully we can continue to…,” Pough paused and looked upward. “Hopefully the man up above smiles on us one more time.”