Brian Jenkins bristled when the subject of the Magic City Classic was raised during the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) coaches conference call earlier this month. The annual meeting between Jenkins’ Alabama State University (ASU) Hornets and Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (Alabama A&M) Bulldogs was nearly two weeks away, and already a reporter mentioned the annual game at Legion Field.
“I mean no disrespect,” Jenkins began. “I kind of get tired of getting asked about the Magic City Classic and the importance of it. The Magic City Classic is just as important as every other game. Every game is the Magic City Classic to me. If you lose 10 games and just win the Magic City Classic, what does that say about your program? What can you say about your program? Our Magic City Classic starts today, preparing for Mississippi Valley State.”
That phase of the Hornets’ preparation concluded with a 56–24 victory over the Delta Devils on Oct. 15, their second victory in the past three games, leaving Jenkins and his team with a record of 2–5 overall and 2-4 in the SWAC. Like the Bulldogs, they had an off week before meeting their in-state rival.
Jenkins, in his second season since arriving in the state’s capital city from Bethune-Cookman University, said he’s not discouraged. But with five losses, he’s not happy either.
“I’m not used to situations like this,” he said before facing the Delta Devils. “I’m not down and out. I’m a little disappointed because our guys work hard, they do. We’ve just got to find a winning solution, and it’s up to me to find it. I’m trying to look at this thing and find a solution to win.”
Three Hornets losses have come by a touchdown or less, but Jenkins is taking no solace in near misses.
“We’ve been competitive, but I’m not into being a competitive loser,” he said. “Right now, we’re just not finishing the job. As a coach, I’ve got to find a way and find the solution to get it done. Our guys played well enough to win [against Prairie View], and played well enough to win a couple of other games. It’s just not getting finished in the end. That’s a major attention-getter to me. Some changes need to be made and will be made to get it corrected.”
Jenkins hoped ASU was building momentum after opening the 2016 campaign with four losses. The Hornets beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff by 20 points before falling in overtime to Prairie View.
That loss left his team’s psyche in a “dismal state,” the coach said. But camaraderie has continued to be strong, helped certainly with the win over Mississippi Valley.
“I think that down the stretch and in the future that’s going to come back to help us in a tremendous way,” Jenkins said. “That’s a major building block when you want to build a championship program. We’ve just got to find a way to finish things off and find a way to win.
“Winning is hard,” he continued. “I don’t know if people understand how hard winning is. And winning on a consistent basis is hard. That’s why you’ve got to do things consistently in order to win and be successful. Somewhere along the line, some of those things we’re not doing consistently, and I’ve got to find what those things are.”