Six years ago, when Henry Frazier III took over as football coach at Prairie View A&M, its athletic director at the time, Charles McClelland, declared that his new hire's "winning record made him very attractive to us." Frazier had a 26--24 record at Division II Bowie State, but to Prairie View, a historically black school in southeast Texas with a historically hopeless football team, he might as well have been Eddie Robinson. From 1989 to '98 the Panthers set an NCAA record for futility with 80 straight losses. Over the two years before Frazier's arrival, Prairie View had won twice. Frazier was undaunted. His attitude was symbolized by the song at the beginning of his iPod's pregame playlist: Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come.
That title proved prophetic. Last Saturday in Birmingham, Prairie View its first Southwestern Athletic Conference title in 45 years by rallying to beat Alabama A&M 30--24. Throughout the 9--1 season, Frazier kept his team's eyes on the prize. "All anybody was talking about was a championship," Panthers quarterback K.J. Black said after the game. Frazier invoked another Cooke line when he said, "It's been a long time coming."