Former Southern University head football coach Pete Richardson and his wife Lillian, center, accept one of several proclaimations, this one from SU President-Chancellor Ray L. Belton, right, at halftime of the first-ever 'Pete Richardson Classic,' at A.W. Mumford Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. SU was ahead of Langston University 19-12 at half.

Surrounded by former players, former Southern coach Pete Richardson was honored at halftime of Southern’s football game against Langston University.

The celebration began with a nostalgic video on the south end zone scoreboard showing highlights of Richardson on the Southern sideline. It gave way to Richardson receiving a proclamation issued by the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, and then a quilt commemorating what is planned to be an annual event, the Pete Richardson Classic.

The game also was the first that featured Richardson’s name as part of the ring of honor on Southern’s field house, a building that was only a dream when Richardson came to Southern in 1993.

“I’m proud of my legacy at Southern University,” Richardson said. “We did a lot of great things in order to promote the program. It speaks well throughout the U.S. as to what Southern has to offer, not only academically but athletically, also.”

The fruits of Richardson’s success are everywhere in A.W. Mumford stadium. Besides the field house, there is the video scoreboard, a new press box and new turf for the field — all improvements that have been made in recent years.

Richardson also pointed out the role that Southern’s football players had in his accomplishments.

“It's emotional for me, because my players did an outstanding job to establish an outstanding program at Southern University,” Richardson said. “It speaks well for them. A lot of them are doing real well for themselves out in the world, and I’m proud of them.”

Many of the former players in attendance were part of Southern’s 1998 team, which shared that year’s HBCU national championship with Florida A&M. One of those players was Damarcus “Boo Boo” Miller, a nose guard and former SWAC defensive player of the year.

“It's an honor to be here because of what coach Richardson has done for the program, for all of us,” said Miller, who got his master’s degree at Southern before entering the coaching profession.

“Twenty years later, all of these guys are professionals with degrees. He molded us into men and now we’re passing along that legacy.”

It's a legacy that reaches into Sugar Land, Texas, where Miller is a coach at Kempner High School.

Edreece Brown was a two-time All-America selection as a safety during his career from 1996-2000. His 96-yard return of an intercepted two-point conversion sealed a 33-29 win for Southern over Grambling in the 2000 Bayou Classic.

“One thing coach taught us was dealing with adversity,” Brown said. “Once we did that we were able to accomplish a lot of different things. Overcoming adversity and getting your education were the most important things he always spoke to us about.”

Shawn Lafleur, an offensive guard on the 1998 team, came in from Beaumont, Texas, for the game. His recollection of the 1998 team was of one that had quality depth, an unusual asset for what was then known as a Division 1-AA school.

“We had a lot of talent,” Lafleur said. “We never had a true starting offensive line. We rotated linemen so we would always be fresh.”

As far as recognition for Richardson, Lafleur said it was probably overdue.

“I think it's been a long time coming,” Lafleur said. “He’s done a lot for the university, and I’m happy to be here to share this moment with him. This is his time; this is his moment, and he’s well-deserving.”

The quarterback whom Lafleur blocked for in 1998, Sam George, said he was ecstatic when he learned of the plans to honor Richardson. His memories of Southern’s golden years under Richardson evoke fond memories.

“He started the tradition that I know of,” George said. “The dog-day defense, the racehorse offense, the no-huddle — all of that started under Pete Rich. It was instilled in some guys before me, and my class instilled it in the youngster behind us. It's been rolling ever since, and I’m very proud of this moment.”