|Delaware State Hornets football|
|Athletic director||Scott Gines|
|Head coach||Rod Milstead |
1st season, 3–8 (.273)
|Field surface||Artificial Turf|
|All-time record||351–393���11 (.472)|
|Bowl record||1–1 (.500)|
|Claimed nat'l titles||2|
|Rivalries||Howard Bison |
Morgan State Bears
Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens
|Colors||Columbia Blue and Red|
|Marching band||"The Approaching Storm Marching Band|
The Delaware State Hornets football team compete in Division I FCS, and are full-members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. They are a five-time conference champion and made their first-ever FCS playoff appearance in 2007. They play at the 7,193-seat Alumni Stadium located in Dover, Delaware. The facility opened in 1957 as a multi-purpose for football, and track and field.
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On November 9, 1980, Delaware State took on QB Neil Lomax and the Portland State Vikings and were defeated 105–0 in the biggest loss in Division I-AA Football history. This marked a low point for the team and with the help of new coach Joe Purzycki, the Hornets rebuilt their program. He was hired as Delaware State's head coach in 1981, and compiled a 21–21–1 overall record, including a 15–5–1 mark in his last two seasons. Bill Collick, who was Purzycki's defensive coordinator, took over the program in 1985. He led the Hornets to the team's first MEAC championship in his first season.
After 2003's 1–10 defeat, Delaware State hired Al Lavan as their new head football coach, with the task of rebuilding the program once again. When Lavan was hired as head coach of the Hornets in January 2004, he promised to bring championship football back to Delaware State.
During his first season at Delaware State in 2004, Lavan led the Hornets to a 4–7 overall record and a 4–3 mark in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), DSU’s first winning record in conference play since 2000.
Lavan's first DSU victory in the 2004 season was a 28–23 upset of eventual MEAC champ Hampton, the Pirates only loss in a 10–1 regular season. In addition to installing the team's first comprehensive strength and conditioning program, Lavan brought changes in the team's academic, recruiting, practice and discipline policies. The team also secured new audio/visual and computer equipment, thanks to a large donation from prominent alumni.
Lavan also initiated a program of speakers to address the team to share their life experiences, including: former Hornet offensive lineman Matt Horace, subsequently an agent with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; Joe Purzycki, former DSU head football coach and later a banking executive; former pro quarterback and NFL executive James Harris; and former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker.
The 2005 squad posted the Hornets' first winning season since 2000. The team was 7–4 overall, and third in the MEAC with a 6–2 record. Delaware State was picked to finish sixth in the 2005 pre-season MEAC poll. The 2005 season also marked the first time since 1985 that the Hornets posted an undefeated record at home (5–0).
In 2006, the Hornets were 8–3 overall and 6–2 in the MEAC, the first time that DSU posted back-to-back winning seasons since 1994–95, while the eight wins were the most by the team since 1991. Delaware State also appeared in the SportsNetwork Division I-AA Top 25 poll for the first time since 1992, coming in at No. 23 in week ten.
In the 2007 season the Hornets made a school record of 10 wins, their first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championship since 1991 and first ever appearance in the NCAA playoffs. In addition, the 2007 Hornets were ranked as high as No. 10 in the weekly SportsNetwork Football Championship Subdivision poll and were No. 15 in the final poll. Delaware State was recognized as 2007 American Sports Wire Division I Black College National Champions and No. 2 in the final Sheridan Broadcast Network poll of historically black colleges and universities teams.
Lavan was honored as the 2007 Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C., MEAC Coach-of-the-Year and Football Championship Subdivision Region II Coach-of-the-Year. He was second in the voting for the 2007 Eddie Robinson Award, recognizing the top Football Championship Subdivision coach, and was awarded the 2008 Making A Difference Award by the DSU Alumni Association. He was also selected as head coach for the 2008 American Heritage Bowl/Navy-Marine Corps All-Star Classic in San Clemente, Calif. He led the Northeast All-Stars to a 24–7 victory in the contest.
In four seasons at DSU, Lavan posted an overall record of 29–16, including a 24–7 mark in MEAC contests. He has led the team to winning records in each of the last three seasons. In the three years prior to his arrival, the Hornets were 10–24 overall and 6–17 in the league. Delaware State had just one winning season in the eight years before Lavan took the job. After three straight losing seasons, Lavan was fired from Delaware State on December 2, 2010.
Kermit Blount was head coach for the 2011–2014 seasons.
Kenny Carter was named head coach in 2015. He was fired in 2017, with a 3-30 record. Delaware State slumped to a 17-game losing streak over the course of Carter’s tenure.
Rod Milstead, a former NFL player and DSU alum, was named head coach in January 2018.
Hornets vs. Blue Hens controversy
The most controversial aspect of the DSU football program was the fact that it had never been scheduled by potential instate rival University of Delaware for a regular season game. It was highly unusual for two state universities that play on the same athletic tier to not play one another, especially schools that are less than one hour's drive away from campus. Critics charged that this had to do with the fact that Delaware State is a historically black college. Furthermore, supporters of a game between DSU and UD claimed that it would be akin to other in-state college rivalries and would be good for the state. In response to the charges of racism on UD's part, their supporters pointed out that Delaware had scheduled and played regular season games against several other HBCUs such as Morgan State and North Carolina A&T. UD supporters also claimed that DSU's team was not as strong as the Blue Hens, and that UD's program had made commitments to other universities that they had to fulfill. Finally, UD supporters also noted the fact that the two colleges routinely meet in sports other than football.
This controversy was laid to rest when UD and DSU met on the football field for the first time on November 23, 2007 in Newark, Delaware in the first round of the NCAA FCS Playoffs. The Blue Hens defeated the Hornets 44–7 in front of an attendance of 19,765, the largest playoff crowd in Delaware Stadium history. In 2009, the teams began playing each other during the regular season, and in 2011 the teams began an annual series (skipping 2015 and 2018), with each of these games played at Delaware Stadium. Delaware has won all nine meetings to date as of 2019.
- 1961–1972: NCAA College Division
- 1973–1977: NCAA Division II
- 1978–present: NCAA Division I–AA/FCS
- 1924–1933: Independent
- 1934: Middle Atlantic Athletic Association
- 1935–1943: Independent
- 1944–1970: Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association
- 1971–Present: Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
|2007||Al Lavan||10–2||Black college national|
|1934||Edward Jackson||Middle Atlantic Athletic Association|
|1956||Bennie J. George||Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association||5–0–1|
|1985||Bill Collick||Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference||5–0|
|1987||Bill Collick||Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference||5–0|
|1988||Bill Collick||Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference||4–2|
|1989||Bill Collick||Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference||5–1|
|1991||Bill Collick||Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference||5–1|
|2007||Al Lavan||Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference||9–0|
|Flower Bowl||W 7–6||January 1, 1947||1946||Florida N&I||Tom Conrad|
|Orange Blossom Classic||L 37–15||December 3, 1977||1977||Florida A&M||Orange Bowl||Miami, Florida||Ed Wyche|
Hornets in the pros
- DE Steve Coleman – Denver Broncos
- FB Steve Davis – Pittsburgh Steelers/New York Jets
- DT Rodney Gunter – Arizona Cardinals
- DE/DT Uhuru Hamiter – New Orleans Saints
- CB Victor Heflin – St. Louis Cardinals
- C Jamaal Jackson – Philadelphia Eagles
- C Chris Jones – New York Giants
- TE David Jones – San Diego Chargers
- CB Tim King – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- FL Al Lawson – New York Jets (AFL)
- WR Shaheer McBride – Philadelphia Eagles
- WR Darnerien McCants – Washington Redskins/Philadelphia Eagles
- OG Rod Milstead – San Francisco 49ers/Washington Redskins
- LB Frank Nicholson – New York Giants
- DE Lybrant Robinson – Washington Redskins
- WR John Taylor – San Francisco 49ers
- WR Walter Tullis – Green Bay Packers
- WR Clarence Weathers – Cleveland Browns/New England Patriots/Green Bay Packers/Kansas City Chiefs
- OG Gordon Wright – Philadelphia Eagles (NFL)/New York Jets (AFL)
- Delaware State University Branding & Communications Tool Kit (PDF). Retrieved July 11, 2018.
- "Lomax Strikes Again, 105 to 0 – Free Preview – The New York Times". Select.nytimes.com. November 10, 1980. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
- "Delaware State University Hornet Athletics". Desu.edu. Archived from the original on September 16, 2006. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
- beepbeep (January 14, 2008). "MEAC/SWAC SPORTS MAIN STREET: DSU Lavan to coach in American Heritage Bowl". Meacswacsports.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
-  DSU fires football coach Lavan
- Jeff, By (September 24, 2007). "ESPN Page 2 – Pearlman: Yellow Blue Hens". Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2008-12-08.
- "ESPN – Delaware rolls past Delaware State in first round of playoffs – NCAA College Football Recap". Sports.espn.go.com. Retrieved 2008-12-08.