Black college football national championship

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The black college football national championship is a mythical national championship won by the best historically black college (HBCU) football team(s) in the United States of America. There has been some criticism of this title on the grounds that the schools in the various polls compete in different levels of competition (e.g., National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II vs. the FCS level of Division I).[1] Also, HBCUs have successfully challenged majority white schools for football championships for decades now, within the framework of both NCAA and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics competition; this includes Associated Press, United Press International, NCAA, and NAIA-sponsored titles for the 1962, 1973, 1978, 1990, 1992, and 1995 seasons, as well as runner-up finishes in 1963, 1983, 1991, 1994, and 2012.

Initially, starting in 1920, an HBCU national champion was simply declared by the Pittsburgh Courier at the end of the season. Others more directly affiliated with the schools also made their own attempts to crown a champ, coordinating their efforts under the auspices of the Champion Aggregation of All Conferences.[2] However, HBCUs eventually began to gravitate over to the NAIA because it offered numerous athletic competition options while also openly welcoming schools of varying demographic backgrounds as members.[3] At present most HBCUs are members of the NCAA.

Attempts have been made over the years to determine a non-mythical national champion with an actual football game contested by leading teams among HBCUs throughout the United States. The Orange Blossom Classic was often billed as such a game, but Florida A&M, as its annual host, was guaranteed a spot in this game and was not always of national championship-caliber each year that it was played between 1933 and 1978. The Pelican Bowl, a bowl game that attempted to match up the conference champions from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and the Southwestern Athletic Conference, was one such example, but this venture failed to draw enough attendance and lasted only a few years in the 1970s. Similarly, the Heritage Bowl was played in the 1990s featuring teams from the MEAC and SWAC, but this bowl game has not been held since 1999 and was often snubbed by the conference champions in lieu of the NCAA's then-Division I-AA playoffs. The two conferences began negotiations in 2010 to create a successor called the "Legacy Bowl" with hopes for it to begin with the 2011 postseason, but it failed to materialize.[4] However, in 2015 the first Celebration Bowl will be played pitting the champions of both conferences.

It is worth noting that while black national champions have been crowned regularly in football for nearly a century now, the concept has never fully caught on with other sports. Men's basketball briefly had a similar movement. In 1941 Southern, coached by the famed football coach Ace Mumford, defeated North Carolina Central, 48–42, in the National Invitational Intercollegiate Basketball Tournament. This tournament was held because the National Invitational Tournament would not invite majority black schools at the time. NCCU was also named national champions that same year by the Associated Negro Press.[5] In late 1947 National Championships, Inc. announced that they would soon begin hosting a postseason basketball tournament for HBCUs.[6] Jet magazine later sponsored an HBCU basketball poll.[7] In much more recent years, various websites have named champions for basketball and baseball. BlackCollegeBaseball.com,for example, has named several black national champions for baseball, including North Carolina A&T and Southern jointly in 2005 and Prairie View in 2006. Bethune-Cookman also defeated Alcorn State in a special postseason series in 2011.

Selectors[edit]

Selector Name Seasons Eligible Teams
"Sheridan Poll"[8]
  PC
  NPC
  SBN
  AURN
Jake Gaither National Championship Trophy[9]
  Pittsburgh Courier
  New Pittsburgh Courier
  Sheridan Broadcasting Network
  American Urban Radio Networks
1920–Present[8]
  1920–1965
  1966–1978
  1979–1990
  1991–present
all HBCU teams
ADW Atlanta Daily World & 100% Wrong Club–W. A. Scott II Memorial Trophy (1953–1992,[10] 2010);[11] Coca-Cola National Historical Black College Football Championship Award (1993–2009)[10] 1953[12]–2010[11]
(1970 and 2010 champions are not available)
all HBCU teams
AFRCB Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl 2015–present MEAC and SWAC champions only
ANP Associated Negro Press & Pigskin Huddle 1948–1960
(1955–1957 champions are not available)
all HBCU teams
ASW American Sports Wire 1990–2013[13] NCAA Division I–FCS Subdivision HBCU teams only[14]
B-CP Boxtorow–Coaches Poll 2009–present[15] all HBCU teams
B-MP Boxtorow–Media Poll 2007–present[15] all HBCU teams
BAA Baltimore Afro-American 1947[16]–1948,[17] 1953[18] all HBCU teams
BCSP Black College Sports Page 1994–present[19]
(1994–1999 champions are not available)
all HBCU teams
CAAC Champion Aggregation of All Conferences[2] & William Lawrence "Paul" Jones 1921–1949[19]
(1921–1949 champions are not available)
all HBCU teams
CB Chocolate Bowl 1935[20] all HBCU teams[20]
CC Colored Championship 1920[21] all HBCU teams
DCCC-M Dr. Cavil's Classic Cuts & SWAC Page Network–Major Division Poll 2002[22]–present
(2002 champion is not available)
NCAA Division I–FCS Subdivision HBCU teams only
DCCC-MM Dr. Cavil's Classic Cuts & SWAC Page Network–Mid-Major Division Poll 2002–present
(2002–2003 champions are not available)
NCAA Division II and NAIA HBCU teams only
HB Heritage Bowl 1994 * MEAC and SWAC champions only
HBCUS-PFP HBCUSports.com–Playoff Fan Poll 2014–present all HBCU teams[23]
HBCUS-UP HBCUSports.com–Ultimate Poll 2015–present all HBCU teams[24]
HSRN-I Heritage Sports Radio Network–Conaway Cup (for Division I teams)[25] 2011–present[25] NCAA Division I–FCS Subdivision HBCU teams only[25]
HSRN-II Heritage Sports Radio Network–Conaway Cup (for Division II[25] and NAIA[26] teams) 2011–present[25] NCAA Division II[25] and NAIA[26] HBCU teams only
J Jet 1973–1987 all HBCU teams
JM Johnny McLendon (used the Dickinson System) 1953[18] all HBCU teams
LAFCF Los Angeles Football Classic Foundation–Eddie G. Robinson Trophy[27] 1988[27] all HBCU teams
MBN Mutual Black Network 1972–1977
(1973–1974 and 1976 champions are not available)
all HBCU teams[28]
NB National Bowl 1947[29] all HBCU teams[6]
PB Pelican Bowl 1972, 1975 * MEAC and SWAC champions only
PCW Pigskin Club of Washington—William G. "Billy" Coward Award[30] 2006–present[30] all HBCU teams
"Vulcan Bowl"
  SB
  VB

Steel Bowl
Vulcan Bowl
1940–1941 **
  1940[31]
  1941[32]
SIAC champion and "all members of conferences allied with the SIAC" only[32]

Notes: *—the Pelican Bowl (played 1972 and 1974–75) and Heritage Bowl (played 1991–99) were intended as black national championship games matching the outright champions or top-seeded co-champions of the MEAC and SWAC conferences, but in practice the top seeds often declined their automatic bids to participate in the NCAA playoffs instead—only the 1972, 1975, and 1994 games matched the top seeds of both conferences as originally intended; **—the Steel Bowl/Vulcan Bowl (played after the 1940–48 and 1951 seasons) are known to have been promoted as black national championship games after the 1940 and 1941 seasons

Yearly national championship selections[edit]

Season Champion(s) Record Coach Selector(s) Note(s)
1920 Howard 7–0–0 W. Edward "Ed" Morrison CC, PC
Talladega 5–0–1 Jubie Bragg PC
1921 Talladega 6–0–1 Jubie Bragg PC
Wiley 7–0–1 Jason Grant PC
1922 Hampton 6–1–0 Gideon Smith PC
1923 Virginia Union 6–0–1 Harold D. Martin PC
1924 Tuskegee 9–0–1 Cleve Abbott PC
Paul Quinn 8–0–1 Little Long PC
1925 Howard 6–0–2 Louis L. "Lou" Watson PC
Tuskegee 8–0–1 Cleve Abbott PC
1926 Howard 7–0–0 Louis L. "Lou" Watson PC
Tuskegee 10–0–0 Cleve Abbott PC
1927 Bluefield State 8–0–1 Harry Jefferson PC
Tuskegee 10–0–1 Cleve Abbott PC
1928 Bluefield State 8–0–1 Harry Jefferson PC
Wiley 10–0–1 Pop Long PC
1929 Tuskegee 9–0–0 Cleve Abbott PC
1930 Tuskegee 11–0–1 Cleve Abbott PC
1931 Wilberforce 9–0–0 Harry Graves PC
1932 Wiley 9–0–0 Pop Long PC
1933 Morgan State 9–0–0 Ed Hurt PC
1934 Kentucky State 9–0–0 Henry Kean PC
1935 Texas College 9–0–2 Ace Mumford CB, PC
1936 Virginia State 7–0–2 Harry Jefferson PC
West Virginia State 8–0–0 Adolph P. "Ziggy" Hamblin PC
1937 Morgan State 7–0–0 Ed Hurt PC
1938 Florida A&M 8–0–0 William M. "Big Bill" Bell, Sr. PC
1939 Langston 9–0–0 Zip Gayles PC
1940 Morris Brown 10–1–0 Artis P. Graves PC, SB
1941 Langston 10–1–0 Zip Gayles VB record includes forfeited game (was 9–1–1)[33]
Morris Brown 8–1–0 Billy Nicks PC
1942 Florida A&M 9–0–0 William M. "Big Bill" Bell, Sr. PC
1943 Morgan State 5–0–0 Ed Hurt PC
1944 Morgan State 6–1–0 Ed Hurt PC
1945 Wiley 10–0–0 Pop Long PC
1946 Morgan State 8–0–0 Ed Hurt PC
Tennessee State 10–1–0 Henry Kean PC
1947 Shaw 10–0–0 Howard K. "Brutus" Wilson NB, PC
Tennessee State 10–0–0 Henry Kean BAA, PC
1948 Central State 9–1–1 Gaston F. "Country" Lewis BAA
Southern 12–0–0 Ace Mumford ANP,[34] BAA, PC
1949 Morgan State 8–0–0 Ed Hurt PC
Southern 10–0–1 Ace Mumford ANP,[35] PC
1950 Florida A&M 8–1–1 Jake Gaither PC
Southern 10–0–1 Ace Mumford ANP,[35] PC
1951 Morris Brown 10–1–0 Edward J. "Ox" Clemons PC
North Carolina A&T 7–1–1 William M. "Big Bill" Bell, Sr. ANP[36]
1952 Florida A&M 8–2–0 Jake Gaither ANP,[37] PC
Lincoln-Missouri 8–0–1 Dwight T. Reed PC
Texas Southern 10–0–1 Alex Durley PC
Virginia State 8–1–0 Sylvester R. "Sal" Hall PC
1953 Florida A&M 10–1–0 Jake Gaither BAA
Prairie View A&M 12–0–0 Billy Nicks ADW,[38] ANP,[18] PC
Tennessee State 8–0–1 Henry Kean JM
1954 Florida A&M 8–1–0 Jake Gaither ADW,[39] PC
Prairie View A&M 10–1–0 Billy Nicks ADW,[39] PC
Southern 10–1–0 Ace Mumford ADW,[39] PC
Tennessee State 10–1–0 Henry Kean ADW,[39] ANP,[40] PC
1955 Grambling State 10–0–0 Eddie Robinson ADW,[41] PC
1956 Tennessee State 10–0–0 Howard Gentry ADW,[42] PC
1957 Florida A&M 9–0–0 Jake Gaither ADW,[43] PC
1958 Prairie View A&M 10–0–1 Billy Nicks ADW,[39] ANP,[44] PC retired W. A. Scott II Memorial Trophy as first three-time winner[39]
1959 Florida A&M 10–0–0 Jake Gaither ADW,[45] ANP,[46] PC
1960 Southern 9–1–0 Ace Mumford ADW,[47] ANP,[48] PC
1961 Florida A&M 10–0–0 Jake Gaither ADW,[49] PC
1962 Florida A&M 9–1–0 Jake Gaither ADW[49] retired W. A. Scott II Memorial Trophy as first three-time winner since the previous trophy had been retired;[50]
won AP Small College Poll National Championship
Jackson State 10–1–0 Big John Merritt PC
1963 Prairie View A&M 10–1–0 Billy Nicks ADW,[51] PC
1964 Prairie View A&M 9–0–0 Billy Nicks ADW,[50] PC
1965 Tennessee State 9–0–1 Big John Merritt ADW,[52] PC
1966 Tennessee State 10–0–0 Big John Merritt ADW,[53] NPC
1967 Grambling State 9–1–0 Eddie Robinson ADW,[54] NPC
Morgan State 8–0–0 Earl Banks NPC
1968 Alcorn State 9–1–0 Marino "The Godfather" Casem ADW,[55] NPC
North Carolina A&T 8–1–0 Hornsby Howell NPC
1969 Alcorn State 8–0–1 Marino "The Godfather" Casem ADW,[56] NPC
1970 Tennessee State 11–0–0 Big John Merritt NPC
1971 Tennessee State 9–1–0 Big John Merritt ADW,[57] NPC
1972 Grambling State 11–2–0 Eddie Robinson ADW,[58] MBN,[59] NPC, PB record includes forfeited game (was 10–2–0)[60]
1973 Tennessee State 10–0–0 Big John Merritt ADW,[61] J,[62] NPC retired W. A. Scott II Memorial Trophy as first three-time winner since the previous trophy had been retired;[61]
won AP and UPI NCAA Division II Poll National Championships;
had players ruled ineligible for NCAA Division II Playoffs and declined bid[63]
1974 Alcorn State 9–2–0 Marino "The Godfather" Casem NPC
Grambling State 11–1–0 Eddie Robinson ADW, J,[64] NPC
1975 Grambling State 10–2–0 Eddie Robinson ADW, J,[65] MBN,[66] NPC record includes forfeited game (was 11–1–0)[67]
Southern 9–3–0 Charlie Bates PB
1976 South Carolina State 10–1–0 Willie Jeffries ADW, J,[68] NPC
1977 Florida A&M 11–0–0 Rudy Hubbard ADW, J,[69] MBN,[70] NPC
Grambling State 10–1–0 Eddie Robinson NPC
South Carolina State 9–1–1 Willie Jeffries NPC
1978 Florida A&M 12–1–0 Rudy Hubbard ADW, J,[71] NPC won NCAA Division I-AA Playoff National Championship
1979 Tennessee State 8–3–0 Big John Merritt ADW, J,[72] SBN
1980 Grambling State 10–2–0 Eddie Robinson ADW, J,[73] SBN
1981 South Carolina State 10–3–0 Bill Davis ADW, SBN
Virginia Union 11–1–0 Willard Bailey J[74]
1982 South Carolina State 9–3–0 Bill Davis ADW
Tennessee State 9–0–1 Big John Merritt J,[75] SBN record does not include voided games (was 10–1–1)[76]
1983 Central State 12–1–0 Billy Joe J[77]
Grambling State 8–1–2 Eddie Robinson SBN
Tennessee State 8–2–1 Big John Merritt ADW
1984 Alcorn State 9–1–0 Marino "The Godfather" Casem ADW, SBN
Tennessee State 11–0–0 Bill Thomas J[78]
1985 Hampton 10–2–0 Fred Freeman J[79]
Jackson State 8–3–0 W. C. Gorden ADW, SBN
1986 Central State 10–1–1 Billy Joe ADW, J,[80] SBN
1987 Central State 10–1–1 Billy Joe J,[81] SBN
Howard 0–10–0 Willie Jeffries ADW record includes forfeited games (was 9–1–0)[82]
1988 Central State 11–2–0 Billy Joe ADW, LAFCF, SBN
1989 Central State 10–3–0 Billy Joe ADW, SBN
1990 Central State 11–1–0 Billy Joe ADW, SBN won NAIA Division I Champion Bowl National Championship
North Carolina A&T 9–2–0 Bill Hayes ASW
1991 Alabama State 11–0–1 Houston Markham, Jr. ADW, ASW, AURN
1992 Central State 12–1–0 Billy Joe ADW won NAIA Division I Champion Bowl National Championship
Grambling State 10–2–0 Eddie Robinson ASW, AURN
1993 Howard 11–1–0 Steve Wilson ADW, AURN[83]
Southern 11–1–0 Pete Richardson ASW
1994 Hampton 10–1–0 Joe Taylor AURN
South Carolina State 10–2–0 Willie Jeffries ADW, ASW,[84] HB
1995 Southern 11–1–0 Pete Richardson ADW, ASW, AURN Central State (10–1–0), coached by Rick Comegy, won NAIA Division I Champion Bowl National Championship
1996 Howard 10–2 Steve Wilson ADW, AURN[85]
Jackson State 10–2 Big Daddy Carson ASW
1997 Southern 11–1 Pete Richardson ADW, ASW, AURN
1998 Florida A&M 11–2 Billy Joe ASW, AURN
Southern 9–3 Pete Richardson ADW
1999 North Carolina A&T 11–2 Bill Hayes ADW, ASW, AURN
2000 Grambling State 10–2 Doug Williams ASW
Tuskegee 12–0 Rick Comegy ADW, AURN, BCSP[86]
2001 Florida A&M 7–4 Billy Joe ADW
Grambling State 11–0 Doug Williams ASW, AURN, BCSP[86] record includes forfeited game (was 10–1)[87]
Tuskegee 11–1 Rick Comegy BCSP[86]
2002 Bethune-Cookman 11–2 Al Wyatt BCSP[88]
Grambling State 11–2 Doug Williams ADW, ASW, AURN, BCSP[88]
2003 Southern 12–1 Pete Richardson ADW, ASW, AURN, BCSP,[89] DCCC-M[90]
2004 Albany State 11–1 Mike White ADW, BCSP,[91] DCCC-MM[92]
Hampton 10–2 Joe Taylor ASW, AURN, DCCC-M[93]
2005 Grambling State 11–1 Melvin Spears AURN, BCSP,[94] DCCC-M[95]
Hampton 11–1 Joe Taylor ADW, ASW
North Carolina Central 10–2 Rod Broadway DCCC-MM[96]
2006 Hampton 10–2 Joe Taylor ASW, BCSP,[97] DCCC-M[98]
North Carolina Central 11–1 Rod Broadway ADW, AURN, BCSP,[97] DCCC-MM,[98] PCW
2007 Delaware State 10–2 Al Lavan ASW, DCCC-M[99]
Tuskegee 12–0 Willie Slater ADW, AURN, B-MP, BCSP,[100] DCCC-MM,[101] PCW
2008 Grambling State 11–2 Rod Broadway ADW, ASW, AURN, B-MP, BCSP,[102] DCCC-M,[103] PCW
South Carolina State 10–3 Buddy Pough BCSP[102]
Tuskegee 10–1 Willie Slater DCCC-MM[104]
2009 Prairie View A&M 9–1 Henry Frazier ASW, BCSP,[105] DCCC-M[106]
South Carolina State 10–2 Buddy Pough ADW,[107] AURN, B-CP, B-MP, BCSP,[105] PCW
Tuskegee 10–2 Willie Slater DCCC-MM[108]
2010 Albany State 11–1 Mike White AURN, BCSP,[109] DCCC-MM,[110] PCW
Bethune-Cookman 10–2 Brian Jenkins ASW, B-CP, B-MP
Texas Southern 0–3 John "Johnnie" Cole DCCC-M[111] record does not include vacated games (was 9–3)[112]
2011 Alabama State 8–3 Reggie Barlow DCCC-M[113]
Norfolk State 9–3 Pete Adrian ASW, B-CP, HSRN-I[25]
Winston-Salem State 13–1 Connell Maynor AURN, B-MP, BCSP,[114] DCCC-MM,[113] HSRN-II,[25] PCW
2012 Arkansas-Pine Bluff 10–2 Monte Coleman ASW, B-CP, HSRN-I[115]
Bethune-Cookman 9–3 Brian Jenkins AURN
Tennessee State 8–3 Rod Reed DCCC-M[22]
Winston-Salem State 14–1 Connell Maynor B-MP, BCSP,[116] DCCC-MM,[22] HSRN-II,[117] PCW
2013 Bethune-Cookman 10–3 Brian Jenkins B-CP, B-MP, DCCC-M,[118] PCW
Tennessee State 10–4 Rod Reed ASW, AURN, BCSP,[119] HSRN-I[117]
Winston-Salem State 10–2 Connell Maynor DCCC-MM,[120] HSRN-II[117]
2014 Alcorn State 10–3 Jay Hopson AURN, B-CP, B-MP, BCSP,[121] DCCC-M,[120] HSRN-I[120]
Virginia State 10–2 Latrell Scott DCCC-MM,[120] HBCUS-PFP[23] HSRN-II[120]
2015 North Carolina A&T 10–2 Rod Broadway AFRCB, AURN,[122] B-CP,[123] B-MP,[123] BCSP,[124] DCCC-M,[125] HBCUS-UP,[24] HSRN-I[26]
Tuskegee 10–3 Willie Slater DCCC-MM,[125] HSRN-II[26]

National championships by school[edit]

School National championships Seasons
Tennessee State 16 1946, 1947, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1965, 1966, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 2012, 2013
Florida A&M 14 1938, 1942, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1977, 1978, 1998, 2001
Grambling State 14 1955, 1967, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1992, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2008
Tuskegee 12 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1929, 1930, 2000, 2001, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2015
Southern 11 1948, 1949, 1950, 1954, 1960, 1975, 1993, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2003
Central State 8 * 1948, 1983, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992
Morgan State 7 1933, 1937, 1943, 1944, 1946, 1949, 1967
South Carolina State 7 1976, 1977, 1981, 1982, 1994, 2008, 2009
Hampton 6 1922, 1985, 1994, 2004, 2005, 2006
Howard 6 1920, 1925, 1926, 1987, 1993, 1996
Prairie View A&M 6 1953, 1954, 1958, 1963, 1964, 2009
Alcorn State 5 1968, 1969, 1974, 1984, 2014
North Carolina A&T 5 1951, 1968, 1990, 1999, 2015
Bethune-Cookman 4 2002, 2010, 2012, 2013
Wiley 4 1921, 1928, 1932, 1945
Jackson State 3 1962, 1985, 1996
Morris Brown 3 1940, 1941, 1951
Virginia State 3 1936, 1952, 2014
Winston-Salem State 3 2011, 2012, 2013
Alabama State 2 1991, 2011
Albany State 2 2004, 2010
Bluefield State 2 1927, 1928
Langston 2 1939, 1941
North Carolina Central 2 2005, 2006
Talladega 2 1920, 1921
Texas Southern 2 1952, 2010
Virginia Union 2 1923, 1981
Arkansas-Pine Bluff 1 2012
Delaware State 1 2007
Kentucky State 1 1934
Lincoln-Missouri 1 1952
Norfolk State 1 2011
Paul Quinn 1 1924
Shaw 1 1947
Texas College 1 1935
West Virginia State 1 1936
Wilberforce 1 1931

Note: *—total does not include 1995 season in which Central State won NAIA Division I Champion Bowl National Championship; Southern of NCAA Division I-AA still won consensus black national championship

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