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Vernon “Skip” McCain

A Lost Legacy of Excellence

For more than a quarter of a century, UMES was recognized as football powerhouse among Historically Black Colleges and Universities. From 1946 to 1970, UMES had a combined win-loss record of 142 wins, 36 losses and 7 ties or an astounding 76.8 winning percentage. In addition, UMES produced six (6) undefeated seasons during the period from 1947 to 1960.

Coach Vernon E. “Skip” McCain

No one person was more instrumental in UMES’s success than Vernon “Skip” McCain. The history of UMES’s football program is inextricably linked to Coach McCain’s tenure. During his tenure Coach McCain had a phenomenal success record of 103 wins, 16 losses and 4 ties. Those who knew him say Coach McCain was the embodiment of the teacher-coach. From 1948 to 1953, he was the most successful coach in the country. Coach McCain, himself a student of the game, did not miss many coaching clinics during his tenure.

In 1950, he was selected “Coach of the Year” by the Pigskin Club of Washington. Coach McCain’s dedication to understanding the deeper qualities and disciplines of the game laid the foundation for what many have called the “Golden Years of Hawk Athletics.” In addition to being head football coach, Coach McCain was also the head basketball coach and athletic director, thus, giving him almost total control over the UMES athletic budget and pool of athletic talent.

Vernon “Skip” McCain was inducted into the Hawk Hall of Fame in 1973. If only the television cameras and the media had found their way to the Eastern Shore of Maryland and the tiny village of Princess Anne! What a story they would have uncovered!!! The entire nation would have discovered a football powerhouse that broke both racial barriers and the competitive spirit of the teams they played. Everyone would have known the name, Skip McCain.  It is a shame that only a few do.

America would have recognized that this humble, 5-foot-5 man, who never cussed or missed church, who also had a higher winning percentage (83.7%) for a 16-year period than some of his most famous coaching contemporaries recorded during the same era -- men such as Woody Hayes of Ohio State University (74.3%), Bear Bryant of Alabama University (72.7%), and Eddie Robinson of Grambling State University.  But, the 1950’s were a time when news of the exploits of Historically Black Colleges and Universities rarely escaped the confines of their own communities.

This included six (6) undefeated seasons, four (4) of which were perfect seasons in 1949, 1950, 1952, and 1955. When Coach McCain came to Maryland State College (MSC) in 1948, he was to serve as the head football coach, head basketball coach and the athletic director. It became apparent that this man could build winners no matter what the sport.

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