Top
HBCU Game Time

No.1: Bethune-Cookman or Tennessee State?

football on a field

The HBCU sports season is officially on, and as host of the national sports talk radio show, From the Press Box to Press Row, I cover all the action on the games that showcase our Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCU GameTime will provide a weekly rundown on what’s happening on the field, and occasionally other sports-related topics. Let’s play!

Donal Ware, HBCU GameTime

Donal Ware, HBCU GameTime

It was an interesting year to say the least in HBCU football, but I’ll talk more about that in my next post.

In the final analysis, Tennessee State and Bethune-Cookman are the two top ranked teams, depending on what poll you follow.

Merits can be given to both teams.  In favor of Bethune-Cookman, the Wildcats defeated Tennessee State 12-9 in Nashville in the first game of the season for both schools.  Tennessee State on the other hand won a first round game in the FCS Playoffs, 31-0 over Butler.  The last time an HBCU won a Division I-AA/FCS playoff game, it happened in the same year – 1999 – when North Carolina A&T defeated Tennessee State and Florida A&M won two games, defeating Appalachian State and Troy.

TSU played in arguably a tougher conference this year, the Ohio Valley Conference, which saw three teams make post season.  B-CU had the higher winning percentage .769 to TSU’s .714.  Both teams had 10 wins.

In the Sheridan poll, the longest running HBCU football poll, which is the poll most think of when talking about the HBCU national champion, the Tigers finished on top with the Wildcats finishing second.  In the Boxtorow polls – the media poll has been around since 2007 and the coaches’ poll since 2009 – the Wildcats finished No. 1 followed by the Tigers.  As a matter of fact in the coaches’ poll, B-CU finished just a single point ahead of TSU.

Click here for the Sheridan poll and here for the Boxtorow poll.

About three years ago, there was some talk of a Legacy Bowl which would be played between the SWAC champion and the MEAC champion and would decide a true national HBCU champion.  While the SWAC was in favor of the game, the MEAC ultimately shut down the idea, opting to play in the national playoffs to try and vie for an NCAA national championship.

The game would have been televised on ESPN and there was to be a $3 million payout to be split between the conferences.  That’s shabby money for the conferences and the schools– $1.5 million to each conference.  That’s a grand total of $150,000 to each SWAC school and a little more than $136,000 to each MEAC school.

And for there to be a true HBCU national champion, TSU has to be part of the conversation.

If the money were more significant say $5 or $10 million, would the MEAC reconsider? Would TSU opt to join the SWAC (or MEAC) so this “mythical” national champion would become a reality and would be settled on the field?

Also is Bethune-Cookman or Tennessee State the national champion and why?

You can follow Donal on Twitter @dware1 and @boxtorow.

Please share your thoughts at digitalpitches@ebony.com.