Countdown to 2022 HBCU football


The 2022 black college football season kicks off in two weeks.

It will be the start of the 130th year of what my colleague Mark Gray has dubbed ‘the African-American national pastime.’

It dates back to an historic game between Biddle University (now Johnson C. Smith University) and Livingstone College that kicked off this pastime – def., an activity that someone does regularly for enjoyment rather than work; a hobby – on December 27, 1892.

That’s the history that author Michael Hurd chronicled in his 1993 book entitled, Black College Football (1882 – 1982), One Hundred Years of History, Education and Pride.

Hurd’s book came out one year before the Black college Sports page premiered in August of 1994. So, the BCSP begins its 29th year this month just as the celebration of 130 years of black college football commences.

Our Tradition

As usual, we kick off our 29th year this week with what we always do–team-by-team schedules (below) of the 51 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that play football.

Our schedule of Classic, Championship and Bowl Games (on right) is also featured this week.

Next week we’ll preview the schedule of Homecoming Games and a comprehensive list of games available on TV and streamed online.

These lists provide a chance for black college fans to peruse the schedules, see when and where important match-ups take place, when homecomings will be held and just how tough a gauntlet your favorite teams will face.

A tsunami of coverage

Launched by the tsunami caused by Jackson State head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion “Coach Prime” Sanders’ entry into the arena, HBCU football has perhaps never been bigger.

It has garnered more national headlines and prime time media coverage over the past year as any time in its 130-year history.

Sanders’ exploits have led to record-setting attendance at Jackson State, dramatic HBCU recruiting breakthroughs like JSU signing the No. 1 high school recruit (Travis Hunter) in the nation, and unprecedented profiles like a recent Sports Illustrated cover story that featured Sanders, Hunter and JSU quarterback Shedeur Sanders, Deion’s son.

Last season, the younger Sanders was the first black college player to win the Jerry Rice Award as the top freshman in FCS football while his father became only the second HBCU coach (after Prairie View A&M head coach Henry Frazier III in 2009) to win the Eddie Robinson Award as the top FCS coach.

Perhaps most importantly, Sanders has been at the head of the revival of the JSU program, one of the most storied in black college football history.

That success has prompted a host of other schools to follow Jackson State Athletics Director Ashley Robinson’s lead and invite other former pros like Coach Prime into the fold. Several have gladly consented to join the fray.

Count Eddie Robinson Jr. at Alabama State, Hue Jackson at Grambling State and before them Eddie George at Tennessee State among them.

Primed and Ready

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we countdown to the August 27 start of the season that features an important matchup in Atlanta at the MEAC/SWAC Challenge between the MEAC’s Howard and SWAC’s Alabama State. On the same weekend, Florida A&M, a serious SWAC contender, travels to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to try its hand against UNC of the ACC. A weekend later, N. C. A&T and N. C. Central meet in Charlotte, N.C., while Sanders and JSU tangle at the Orange Blossom Classic in Miami.

Sanders has primed the pump for the 2022 season. It’s just about time to start the engine.