James B. Ewers Jr. Ed.D.
Creating Bowl\Post-Season Opportunities For HBCUs And Why We Should Do It
College football season is over as conference championships and post-season opportunities have all been decided. When you look over the season, HBCU football teams were in the news and a part of everyone’s conversation a regular basis. Fayetteville State University, Tuskegee University, Florida A&M University had stellar seasons. Jackson State University defeated Southern University 43-24 to win the SWAC championship.
North Carolina Central University, champions of the MEAC defeated Jackson State University in the Cricket Celebration Bowl. The final score in overtime was 41-34. It was held at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta Georgia on December 17, 2022. Deion Sanders is now the head football coach at the University of Colorado. Jackson State University has named T.C. Taylor as its new head football coach. Let’s congratulate both men on their new positions.
Regarding the Celebration Bowl, the fans were in a frenzy and tailgating was happening non-stop. Ribs and chicken wings on the grill were fan favorites. It was not a stretch to say that a good time was had by all. Upcoming on February 25, 2023 at Yulman Stadium in New Orleans Louisiana will be the 2nd Annual HBCU Legacy Bowl.
That game will showcase talent from most of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Last year’s inaugural event was a success on and off the field as it included a career fair and a list of dynamic speakers. I anticipate the crowds will be larger and more HBCUs will be participating. Employers will be there to offer students positions. Professional football scouts and agents will be in
attendance ready to have players align with their organizations.
When the tickets go on sale, get yours because they won’t last long. My prediction is that this will become a signature event within the HBCU landscape. Personally, I hope that Yulman stadium on the campus of Tulane University will become the permanent location of the HBCU Legacy Bowl.
Bowl games and play-off spots are the rewards for teams that have achieved a level of success. That’s the way it’s been and that’s the way it will stay. As you know at the Division I level, teams need 6 wins to become “bowl eligible”. So, a team can finish with a 6-6 record and become bowl eligible.
Meanwhile, HBCU teams can finish the season at 8-3 or 9-2 and have no post-season play. They are left watching other teams play while they wait on spring practice to begin. Is that equitable? You can answer that question.
The proposal that I am putting forward keeps HBCU teams with good records on the field for post-season play. Let’s create two bowl games for four HBCU teams. They would be named by the
sponsors or benefactors. How about the Jake Gaither Bowl or the Marino Casem Bowl? There would be a selection committee composed of people who know football. The bowl sites would be agreed upon by the sponsors and benefactors.
HBCUs that have the stadium capacity could be used. Further, let’s have the bowl games two to three weeks apart like the current holiday format. There would be two to three days of pre-bowl activities such as career fairs and workshops. Al of us know prominent men and women who have been great ambassadors for HBCUs. As you are reading this column, I hope that you will become energized by it and think that the idea has merit.
If you have been blessed with financial resources, please consider becoming a voice for this proposal. Yes, it does need tweaking and you could be a part of the tweaking. We cannot continue to allow our young men to play on teams with winning records and not be considered for post-season
play. If you are a student-athlete enrolled at an HBCU and had a winning record, I hope that you think this is a good idea.
On a personal note, I played a sport at an HBCU and won championships and participated in post-season play. I know what that feels like, and we should give our current student-athletes the same opportunity. Sometimes in life, you must create another path to reach your goal. Now is the time to create another path.