Deion Sanders has a question: why not have an HBCU in a bowl game? – Yahoo Sports | Team Cansler

Deion Sanders had many goals when he took the job as head coach at Jackson State, a historic black college in Mississippi, in 2020.

One of these was the restoration of the Tigers program, whose illustrious history includes four Pro Football Hall of Famers (Lem Barney, Walter Payton, Robert Brazile and Jackie Slater).

Well, JSU is 9-0, has plenty of high-ranking recruits, and averages over 42,000 fans per game.

Another goal was to draw attention not just to JSU, but to all HBCU football and HBCU schools in general.

From ESPN shows to 60 Minutes appearances to the daily power of having a promoter like Sanders involved, that too has been accomplished. Even as a possible jump to an SEC or Pac-12 job looms for Coach Prime, he’s not done yet.

Sanders this week advocated that the best team at HBCU should be given a chance to play in a bowl game against an FBS opponent each season.

HBCUs compete in FCS football, which is viewed as a division subordinate not only to big programs like Alabama or Ohio State, but even Central Michigan or Middle Tennessee.

The competition could be a step up, but the potential exposure of being part of the nationally televised bowl season would be significant.

“Why can’t it be us?” Sanders said this week. “I’m just like, ‘Why can’t we be?'”

The short answer is NCAA legislation. FBS is one department, FCS is another. Jackson State and other HBCUs don’t even compete in the sprawling FCS playoffs, which are typically dominated by schools like North Dakota State and Sam Houston State.

There would have to be an overhaul of the NCAA rules to even do this, although it’s an easy fix.

There will be 41 bowl games this season, meaning 82 of the 131 FBS teams will make the postseason. Last year, 21 teams qualified for a bowl game with just a 6-6 record. Rutgers actually came into the Gator Bowl as a late replacement 5-7. That’s a lot of mediocrity.

“You have teams that go to a bowl game practically 6-5,” Sanders said. “Nobody will see them play and nobody will turn the channel to witness this stupidity. But you have us traveling deep and traveling hard.

It’s not about getting a spot in the College Football Playoffs or even the Rose Bowl. There are plenty of smaller games that essentially attract little more than die-hard college football fans and players. Did last year’s Myrtle Beach Bowl between 6-6 Old Dominion and 6-6 Tulsa cheer for anyone? One of these teams playing the best of HBCU would be more intriguing.

And as Sanders noted, since among other things, JSU actually travels “deep” and “heavy,” there would likely be better attendance. The Tigers have a larger fan base than some FCS schools.

Jackson State averages more than 42,000 fans per game at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium. (Aron Smith/Jackson State University via Getty Images)

A minor bowl game from the South would likely covet this opportunity. These are showcases anyway, essentially exhibition games that aim to reward teams while also promoting a product and boosting a local economy.

Why not, right?

The main reason is that until now very few people thought this was an idea, let alone a good one. HBCUs play Division I basketball (and other sports), including several leagues with automatic bids for March Madness. However, football is different. Perhaps it took Sanders to address the issue.

FBS and HBCU teams play occasionally during the regular season. The state of Alabama lost 45-7 to UCLA this year and Florida A&M to North Carolina 56-24. However, UCLA and UNC are top 20 teams. What happens against a 6-6 club from the MAC?

There may be concerns over the players’ health and safety due to the extension of the season, but if Deion Sanders isn’t worried about that then he certainly knows more than most.

HBCUs have a bowl game – the Celebration Bowl – featuring the champions of the two most famous conferences, SWAC and MEAC. It will be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in mid-December. Last year, South Carolina State defeated JSU in front of 48,653 fans.

It’s a great weekend that could get even better if the winner were to play an FBS opponent in an FBS bowl in late December or early January. This would require moving a smaller bowl, but so what?

“That’s after the Celebration Bowl,” Sanders said. “That’s a goal. This is a pre-New Year’s Day bowl game that we’d like to be a part of. Along with FAMU and some of the other wonderful teams doing some wonderful things.”

Coach Prime is not wrong. With bowl games declining in value due to an extended playoff and so many top players skipping games to prepare for the NFL, here’s something new for an old industry.

It won’t be finished this year, but someone should have it done. Having Deion Sanders at an HBCU can be another lasting legacy.

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