If you look at all the college bowl games that have taken place thus far, the Celebration Bowl between MEAC champion North Carolina A&T Aggies, and SWAC champion Alcorn State Braves was a good as any.
A&T was able to hold off ASU on the final play of the game, to win a 41-34 thriller in front of 35,528 at the Georgia Dome.
It was in that game that Aggie running back Tarik Cohen ran for 295 yards, and three touchdowns showing the country (the game was nationally televised on ABC) that he is one of college football’s most exciting players.
The A&T-ASU thriller was also important because it showed the country that quality football is still be played at Black Colleges.
The everyday college fan sees some of the absurd scores when HBCU schools venture out to play Division I schools. Therefore they can’t help but think football is horrible at HBCUs.
It is not.
However, HBCU football is not Division I quality, either. And for the most part, it is not on the level as the outstanding FCS programs.
This is why the HBCUs should break away from the NCAA and form their own championship series. The Celebration Bowl should be the culmination of the Black College championship playoffs.
Let’s be honest, it is highly unlikely that an HBCU school is going to be able to contend for a NCAA national title in FCS football. Florida A&M was the first, and only HBCU school to win a national title, and that was in 1978.
The HBCUs simply don’t have the money, or the recruiting base, to compete against the top echelon FCS programs.
Understand that FCS powers such as Jacksonville State out of the Ohio Valley Conference, can recruit outstanding talent from black and white communities.
Meanwhile, a school like Tennessee State University, which also competes in the OVC, can only recruit top talent from black communities.
Let’s be honest, if there are white players on a roster at an HBCU, they are probably there because they couldn’t go anywhere else. Sure, there are some exceptions to that, but for the most part, that is the case.
So, why not have a HBCU playoffs to decide the National Champion? Formulate a playoff system which brings in the teams from the four HBCU conferences, MEAC, SWAC, SIAC and CIAA.
This is what fans of HBCU football really want to see. I assure you, the brother who attended Howard University would love to tell his law partner who attended Hampton University, that his school won the National Championship. The alumni would be as engaged as the current enrollees.
This is not unheard of, and this is not trying to segregate HBCU schools. There are Christian colleges that compete in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). It is not that these schools are against competing against non-Christian schools. They are merely taking on schools that are similar to theirs in academics and athletics. That is precisely how HBCUs should approach their own national title.
Finally, let’s make the Celebration Bowl championship in Atlanta not only a national championship game for HBCU football, but a true celebration of HBCU’s incredible athletic and academic legacy.
Work with the Black College Hall of Fame to make the official announcement of their yearly Hall of Fame class at a banquet associated with the Championship game.
Host the Celebration Bowl basketball tournament, the week of the football game (the way the old Sugar Bowl basketball tournament used to take place in New Orleans). Throw in a Greek night recruiting fair/step show, and a Battle of the Bands, and you have a true celebration.
And you will also watch attendance grow from 35,000 to 50,000.
And, if ESPN is truly the worldwide leader in sports it claims to be, they would love it. I bet the Coca-Cola Company, whose world headquarters are in Atlanta, and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, would love to get behind a celebration such as this.
North Carolina A&T and Alcorn State got the Celebration Bowl off to a marvelous start. Now it is up to the conferences to face the facts on what HBCU football is, and then take this bowl game to another level.