The man they call "Papa Bear" on the Morgan State campus is bound for the College Football Hall of Fame. And rightly so. During Earl Banks' 14 years as Morgan football coach, his teams never had a losing season, appeared in four bowl games, won 31 consecutive games and compiled a 96-31-2 record. For a small black college with meager state support, that's a sensational achievement.
A bigger accomplishment, though, was the caliber of players nurtured by Coach Banks, who also served as Morgan's athletic director until 1987. Forty of these men went on to play professional football, including a number of all-pros such as Willie Lanier, Raymond Chester and Leroy Kelly. Most important of all, 90 percent of them received their college degrees.
"Winning football games was nice," Papa Bear said, "but to teach them about life and how to become successful citizens was my biggest satisfaction."
That statement alone qualifies Coach Banks in our eyes for the College Football Hall of Fame.