The year was 1979. Southern University's defensive leader and nose tackle Kenny Times knew they had to win his final Bayou Classic.
"I knew in my senior year, we had to change the culture," noted Kenny Times. We never beat Grambling with Doug Williams and Coach Rob was always winning. We had Jared Robinson, Ward Robinson, Kenny Times, Herb Williams, and Bo Freeman. Those seniors was feeling the same that I was feeling. We were fed up and had to change the culture."
He's been a hero of mine since the first day my cousin brought him home to meet the family after her freshman year at Southern University. He would have fun together, work out, and have epic basketball games at SUNO. He's my relative, brother, and friend.
Who is he? Kenny Times. To his fellow Southern Jaguars and opponents in the SWAC, his nickname was "The Body Snatcher!"
Three seasons later, the Deerfield Beach native would become a legend for the Southern University football team.
"We had distractions [while at Southern]. Coaching changes, coaches getting fired. So, we had to get on a regular system," Times remarked on the instability at Southern before winning in 1979. We knew the strength of the team was our defense. Southern had the top defense in the nation that season. We shut down everybody. I believe the most anybody scored on us was seven points."
For five consecutive years, the Grambling Tigers dominated the Southern Jaguars in the Bayou Classic. Despite the overwhelming odds against the Jaguars, Kenny Times wasn't leaving Southern without vanquishing the G-Men.
I recall my father playfully asked Times, "will you guys win [in Times' senior year]?" He confidently responded, "yes."
A few months later, December 1, 1979, would arrive. My father was a proud Southern University graduate and postgraduate and supported the Jags. Yet, for the first time in years, he declined to purchase tickets to the Bayou Classic. Why? He was nervous for Times. So, he and I sat in our living room listening to the game via a New Orleans AM radio station.
Again and again, while the Jaguars were on defense, you would hear the play-by-play guy say, "Times on the tackle, Kenny Times made a great play."
Times told me he had 2 sacks, 10 tackles, and 6 assisted tackles in the contest to earn the MVP.
"I had to be confident. My teammates looked to me to set the tone. Coach let me speak to the defense [at halftime]. The game is in our control right now. We are here. All we got to play as hard as we did in the first half and play like that in the second half." He continued, "because you have this psychological barrier in your mind that if you don't watch it, there's an aura about this game, in the back of your mind there's a little bit of doubt that we still might be losing."
The Jags defense did the unthinkable. They stopped a Grambling Tigers offense from scoring only once. The Southern Jaguars won 14-7 and handed the legendary head coach Eddie Robinson his first in a Bayou Classic.
"We had blitz packages they never seen before, it was new. I had double and triple teams, so it freed up men to get after the quarterback. They [Grambing] didn't know how to figure it out. And time ticked off the clock and we won that game," mentioned Times.
Kenny Times was named Defensive MVP.
But where is his name recorded in the list of Most Valuable Players of the historic contest? I spoke with Louisiana Hall of Fame sports broadcaster Ro Brown on Thursday night at the New Orleans Saints-Buffalo Bills game. Brown noted the exclusion of the 1979 MVPs.
I recall before Katrina hit New Orleans and Times was attending the Bayou Classic, all of the MVPs were being honored on the field, but where was he - in the stands. He made his way to the suites and saw a familiar face, another legend, Doug Williams. The two men spoke, and Williams knew Times. Williams made one a classy
Still, to this day, the Bayou Classic powers that be haven't updated their historical records to include Kenny "The Body Snatcher" Times. Hopefully, his place in the Bayou Classic history will receive the recognition deserving of the MVP who led the Southern University Jaguars to conquer the great Eddie Robinson and Grambling State University.
Times has a message to the seniors on the Southern Jaguars team:
You have to make a stand right now. Today. You're gonna have to be better than you've been the whole year. But you have to maintain composure.
While you're going through this situation, you have the bring a whole lot of other people with you such as your teammates, coaches fans. Everybody. So just not you, you are a senior.
That's something that no one can ever take from you. That's something that no one can ever ever say never been done. That is something that you can say. I've done it. So the opportunity is now, don't wait. Because time waits for no one."
Ken "The Body Snatcher" Times
Ken Times was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1980 NFL Draft. Times professional career spanned from 1980 to 1985 in the NFL, CFL, and USFL. He played for San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Cardinals, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Tampa Bay Bandits, Chicago Blitz, Orlando Renegades and Memphis Showboats.
He led the USFL in 1983 with 11 sacks and was voted to the USFL Pro Bowl. Times registered 18.0 quarterback sacks in his football career.
Times was a co-host on the Saints News Network podcasts for four years. He contributes to the HBCU Legends podcast.