By George Napier Barnes, III
My favorite Super Bowl commercial featured an irate lizard who was upset because a group of frogs won an audition to be the spokesperson (if you could imagine a frog as a person) for the King of Beers, Budweiser. Each frog in the trio croaked one sound in secession. The first croaked, “Bud”. The second, “wise”. And the third, “er”. The lizard’s name was Louie. He was complaining to Frankie, another lizard. Louie claimed that his audition was flawless. He should be the spokes person. He added that he could hardly understand what the frogs were saying. He then stated one day the frogs will have to pay, to which Frankie said, “Let it go Louie, let it go.” You can see it here. https://youtu.be/EJskC3ZDlaw
Like Louie, I can’t let it go. Our HBCU champions were again placed in un-winnable situations in the NCAA playoffs. First, I have been on record for years saying that our conference champions should forego the NCAA playoffs. I think that the champions from the two Division 1 conferences (Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and Mid Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) should meet for the D1 Black College National Championship. The Celebration Bowl does this for football. I would add the champions from the two Division 2 conferences to this mix. Thus the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s (SIAC) champions will meet preferable prior to the Celebration Bowl and at the same venue. The winner of that contest would be crowned the D2 Black College National Champions. Maybe we should do this for every sport. After all, our kids should be able to compete for a national title without the hindrance of politics.
Twenty-eight teams made the D2 Football Championship tournament. Only three HBCU teams made the field. None won a game. In all other sports, conference champions receive an automatic bid to the playoffs. This is not the case for D2 football. Teams are placed in the tournament based on polling from the American Football Coaches Associations (AFCA). My Fayetteville State University Broncos won the CIAA football title with a 9-2 record. The Broncos ONLY received 11 votes from the AFCA. They were the last team to make the field even though there were NINE teams in their Super Region (of 10) that didn’t win an out right conference title. A PWI conference, The Gulf South Conference (GSC) had three teams ranked in the top 10 of Super Region 2. The GSC has eight teams, five of which won 3 games or less. Two teams only had one conference loss thus they were co-champions. The third team had 2 losses. How strong could the GSC be to have three teams ranked higher than an outright conference champion?
They were strong enough to get two home games during the first round of the playoffs. My Broncos were sent to Cleveland (as in Mississippi) to play Delta State University co-champions of the GSC. What happened next is unbelievable. We learned who we would play on Sunday evening. For whatever reason, five days later, on the Friday before the game we took a flight to Memphis TN. From there the team took a two hour bus trip to Cleveland. ( as in Mississippi) Normally Thursday is a travel day, Friday is the walk through. FSU looked tired. They turned the ball over on three straight processions losing a whole lot to nothing. Fellow conference member, Virginia Union University, did not make it to the CIAA Championship game. Still the Panthers garnered over 500 votes from the AFCA. That was enough votes to get VUU a home playoff. WHY? In any event, the Panthers lost by the score of a whole lot to a little bit. Had VUU won, they would have faced undefeated Benedict College of the SIAC. Instead Wingate University (a larger PWI) knocked out Benedict 23-6. Ft Valley State University (8-2 SIAC) didn’t make the dance. The Wildcats lost to Benedict by four and drop a contest to FAMU a ranked Division 1 program. One lost to Division II competition should have gotten them in, but not for an HBCU.
The same thing(s) happened to our newly crowned volleyball champions. The Lady Ratters of Florida A & M State University won the SWAC title. They were ranked 14th in their region and will have to play the 3rd seeded Lady Gators of the University of Florida on the Lady Gators home floor. The Delaware State University Lady Hornets won the MEAC Volleyball title. The Lady Hornets are ranked 15th in their region and will have to travel to Lincoln to play against the 7th ranked (nationally) Lady Corn Huskers. Another HBCU, Tennessee State University is not in a HBCU Conference. They are members of the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC). The Lady Tigers won the OVC volleyball championship. Like other HBCUs, regardless of conference, this HBCU champion has to travel to a top ten program (Ohio State University) taking on the Lady Buckeyes on their home floor. I would be shock if any of the three win a set. Winning a match is impossible to comprehend.
Elizabeth City State University won the CIAA Volleyball title. The Lady Viking upset favorite Shaw University (20-6) on championship night. ECSU was pitted against the overall #1 team in the nation Gannon (PA). Of course, the game was played on Gannon’s home floor. ECSU was swept 3-0. Spring Hill College is not an HBCU. They are members of the SIAC. The Lady Badgers won the SIAC’s volleyball championship. They two had to face the top seed in their region, The University of Tampa. The Lady Badgers bowed out 3-1 in the first round. Is there a pattern here, or is it just me?
At least the football playing division one HBCU’s got it right. Jackson State University (11-0) will be hosting the SWAC championship game this weekend against Southern University (7-4). JSU defeated SU 35-0 back in October. The winner will meet the MEAC regular season champions North Carolina Central University (9-2) at the Celebration Bowl played in Atlanta. The winner of the Celebration Bowl will be crowned the Black College Football National Champions.
At least we will have one national champion. We need more.
George Napier Barnes, III is a proud alumni of historically black college or university (HBCU) Fayetteville State University, Kappa Alpha Psi, and currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Want your life a little sweeter?
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