SWAC Championship Game
|SWAC Championship Game|
|Conference Football Championship|
|Conference||Southwestern Athletic Conference|
|Current stadium||NRG Stadium|
|Current location||Houston, Texas|
|Last contest||2016 SWAC Championship Game|
|Current champion||[Grambling State Tigers]]|
|Most championships||Grambling State Tigers (6)|
|Official website||SWAC Football Championship Game|
Farmers Insurance (2009–2012)
|Legion Field (1999–2012)|
|Birmingham, Alabama (1999–2012)|
The SWAC Championship Game is an American college football game held on the first Saturday in December by the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) each year to determine its football champion. The game pits the champion of the Eastern Division against the champion of the Western Division in a game that follows the conclusion of the regular season. The game was held annually at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama from 1999 through 2012, but moved to NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas in 2013.
Following the 1998 season, the SWAC announced that the league would be split into two divisions with the divisional winners meeting in a championship game. At the time of the announcement, a site for the game had not been selected but the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, the Astrodome in Houston, the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile and Legion Field in Birmingham were each mentioned as potential locations for the event. Additionally, expansion of the league to twelve teams was also under consideration with Tennessee State, Florida A&M, Tuskegee and Morris Brown mentioned as possible additions. In February 1999, a championship game was officially approved by the SWAC Council of Presidents. Officials also stated the winner of the championship game would advance to play in the Heritage Bowl against an opponent from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).
The following May, SWAC officials announced the league offices would move from New Orleans to Birmingham and that the championship game would be played at Legion Field. Birmingham was selected over New Orleans, Houston, Baton Rouge and Memphis as the city guaranteed both free office space to house the league headquarters and free access to Legion Field to host the game. The inaugural game was played on December 11, with Southern defeating Jackson State 31–30 before 47,621 fans at Legion Field. The following week, Southern lost to Hampton in the Heritage Bowl; however, the meeting would be the only one for the SWAC champion following the championship game. In January 2000 the NCAA ruled schools cannot compete in two postseason games, effectively ending participation in the Heritage Bowl by the SWAC champion. With the SWAC left unable to compete, the Heritage Bowl folded in February 2000.
In July 2010, commissioner Duer Sharp announced the SWAC was interested in participating in the Legacy Bowl against the MEAC to determine the annual black college football national championship. Although a decision regarding the contest has been postponed to 2011, SWAC participation in the event would potentially end the annual championship game in Birmingham. In May 2013, SWAC officials announced the game was to move from Legion Field to Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas starting with the 2013 edition of the championship.
When the game was initially proposed, the teams playing in the championship game was to include those with the best record against seven conference opponents from each division. However in August 1999 league officials changed the rule. For the inaugural contest, participation in the championship game was based on the record against the four divisional opponents only, not all conference teams. This format was dropped by the SWAC following the 1999 championship game in favor of the original proposal based on all league games, not only the divisional opponents.
|Year||Eastern Division||Western Division||Attendance||MVP||Reference(s)|
|1999||Jackson State||30||Southern||31||47,621||WR Michael Hayes, Southern|||
|2000||Alabama A&M||6||Grambling State||13||34,687||DB Calvin Spears, Grambling State|||
|2001||Alabama State||31||Grambling State||38||38,487||RB Kendrick Shanklin, Grambling State|||
|2002||Alabama A&M||19||Grambling State||31||23,727||QB Bruce Eugene, Grambling State|||
|2003||Alabama State||9||Southern||20||31,617||QB Quincy Richard, Southern|||
|2004||Alabama State||40||Southern||35||22,327||QB Tarvaris Jackson, Alabama State|||
|2005||Alabama A&M||6||Grambling State||45||20,612||QB Bruce Eugene, Grambling State|||
|2006||Alabama A&M||22||Arkansas–Pine Bluff||13||30,213||LB Johnny Baldwin, Alabama A&M|||
|2007||Jackson State||42||Grambling State||31||43,206||QB Jimmy Oliver, Jackson State|||
|2008||Jackson State||9||Grambling State||41||25,873||QB Greg Dillion, Grambling State|||
|2009||Alabama A&M||24||Prairie View A&M||30||20,218||QB K. J. Black, Prairie View A&M|||
|2010||Alabama State||6||Texas Southern†||11||22,350||LB Dejuan Fulghum, Texas Southern|||
|2011||Alabama A&M||15||Grambling State||16||23,476||LB Cliff Exama, Grambling State|||
|2012||Jackson State||21||Arkansas–Pine Bluff||24||32,480||WR Willie Young, Arkansas–Pine Bluff|||
|2013||Jackson State||27||Southern||34||38,985||QB Dray Joseph & DB Anthony Balancier, Southern|||
|2014||Alcorn State||38||Southern||24||38,969||QB John Gibbs, Jr., Alcorn State|||
|2015||Alcorn State||49||Grambling State||21||40,352||RB Darryan Ragsdale & DB Warren Gatewood, Alcorn State|||
|Totals||5 Wins||394||12 Wins||458|
Results by team
|1||Prairie View A&M||1||0||1.000|
|0||Mississippi Valley State||0||0||N/A|
Previous SWAC champions
Prior to splitting into divisions and using a postseason championship game to decide its overall champion, the SWAC determined its champions by winning-percentage against conference opponents in regular season play.
In 1933 Langston appeared to win the title outright with a 4-0 conference record after the regular season, while Wiley finished 4-1, and Prairie View A&M finished 3-1. Langston was invited to the Prairie View Bowl, which was won by Prairie View. The Panthers subsequently declared themselves SWAC champions even though their claim was based on a postseason game. The SWAC seems to acknowledge both schools' claims to the title in the conference's football media guide, although some other sources including Michael Hurd's Black College Football, 1892–1992: One Hundred Years of History, Education, and Pride (1993) also list Wiley as an additional co-champion, apparently since all three schools had 4-1 records against conference opponents if the postseason game is incorporated into the regular season conference standings.
Prairie View vacated its 1941 championship. No championship was awarded in 1943 due to World War II. Grambling State vacated its 1975 championship due to a violation of SWAC rules for scheduling opponents.
- Crenshaw, Jr., Solomon (December 4, 1998). "SWAC will split into divisions, add championship game". The Birmingham News. p. 1D.
- AP Reporters (December 3, 1998). "SWAC will split into two divisions". The Associated Press State & Local Wire.
- AP Reporters (February 8, 1999). "Conference presidents approve SWAC championship game". The Associated Press State & Local Wire.
- Crenshaw, Jr., Solomon (May 4, 1999). "SWAC expected to announce it's moving to Birmingham". The Birmingham News. p. 1A.
- Robinson, Fred (May 5, 1999). "N.O. lets SWAC leave town; League heading to Birmingham". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans, LA. p. D1.
- Schiefelbein, Joseph (December 12, 1999). "Big-play champs: Jaguars capture third straight SWAC crown". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA. p. 1C.
- Staff Reporters (January 19, 2000). "Richardson unfazed by Heritage Bowl change". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA. p. 1D.
- Staff Reporters (February 11, 2000). "Heritage Bowl discontinued". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. p. 9D.
- Grant, Jr., Thomas (July 29, 2010). "Commissioner: Legacy Bowl 'no-brainer' for SWAC". The Times and Democrat. Orangeburg, SC. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
- Grant, Jr., Thomas (August 31, 2010). "Legacy Bowl decision off until spring". The Times and Democrat. Orangeburg, SC. Retrieved January 10, 2011.
- Birdsong, Nick (May 30, 2013). "SWAC football, basketball championships headed to Houston". AL.com. Retrieved December 1, 2013.
- Schiefelbein, Joseph (August 18, 1999). "SWAC format for title game changes". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA. p. 7D.
- Guilbeau, Glenn (August 22, 1999). "SWAC division plan good one". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA. p. 1C.
- Schiefelbein, Joseph (December 12, 1999). "SWAC alters format to include all league games". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA. p. 11C.
- Norris, Toraine (December 3, 2000). "Trick play backfires on A&M, Lifts Grambling to SWAC title". The Birmingham News.
- Segrest, Doug (December 2, 2001). "Grambling overtakes Hornets in the second half". The Birmingham News.
- Schiefelbein, Joseph (December 2, 2001). "Defense bounces back: Grambling defenders turn tide with fumble recoveries". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA. p. 10C.
- Schiefelbein, Joseph (December 15, 2002). "Grambling wins, with defense: Tigers capture third straight SWAC Championship Game trophy with help from big stop". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA. p. 10C.
- Perrin, Mike (December 14, 2003). "Mistakes sting ASU: Hornets can't overcome costly penalties in SWAC title game". The Birmingham News.
- Schiefelbein, Joseph (December 14, 2003). "Back in business: Jaguars win SWAC title with grit". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA. p. 1C.
- Perrin, Mike (December 12, 2004). "Hornets finish off second SWAC title". The Birmingham News. p. 1C.
- Schiefelbein, Joseph (December 12, 2004). "Fast and loose; Williams gets untracked as Hornets win scorefest for SWAC title over Jaguars". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA. p. 1C.
- Benson, Reggie (December 11, 2005). "A SWAC smack". The Huntsville Times. p. 1C.
- Schiefelbein, Joseph (December 11, 2005). "Eugene leads Grambling to SWAC championship". The Advocate. Baton Rouge, LA. p. 1C.
- Perrin, Mike (December 17, 2006). "To the rescue Rookie QB, swarming defense spark A&M to first title". The Birmingham News. p. 1B.
- Cross, Beck (December 17, 2006). "SWAC Championship; UAPB's hopes wilt in 2nd half". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Little Rock, AR. p. 1C.
- Jones, James (December 16, 2007). "Comegy's Tigers earn SWAC championship; Team rebuilt in less time than expected". Sun Herald. Biloxi, MS. p. C1.
- SWAC, p. 91
- Solomon, Jerome (December 12, 2009). "A long time coming: Panthers dodge game-ending scare, hoist first title trophy in 45 years". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Solomon, Jerome (December 12, 2010). "TSU beats Alabama State 11–6 to claim SWAC crown". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Segrest, Doug (December 11, 2010). "Big defense, backup QB deliver Texas Southern victory against Alabama State". The Birmingham News. Retrieved January 9, 2010.
- Benson, Reggie (December 10, 2011). "Bulldogs come up short again against Tigers". The Huntsville Times. Retrieved December 10, 2011.
- Birdsong, Nick (December 8, 2012). "SWAC Championship: 95-yard TD pass helps lift UAPB to 24-21 win against Jackson State". AL.com. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
- "Southern defeats Jackson St, 34–27 in 2 OT". ESPN.com. Associated Press. December 7, 2013. Retrieved December 8, 2013.
- "Alcorn State beats Southern 38–24 for SWAC title". ESPN.com. Associated Press. December 6, 2014. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
- "Alcorn State tops Grambling St, 49–21; repeats as SWAC champ". ESPN.com. Associated Press. December 5, 2015. Retrieved December 5, 2015.
- Eder, Steve (October 9, 2012). "Texas Southern is penalized by the NCAA". The New York Times. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
- Southwestern Athletic Conference Football Media Guide. Birmingham, AL: Southwestern Athletic Conference. 2010. Retrieved January 10, 2010.