HBCUs Still Trying To Get There Due

By J Double
Updated: October 16, 2007

HBCU LOGO DETROIT, MICH—We have reached the year 2004 and Historically Black College and University (HBCU) football programs are still waiting to be placed on the same field of level grounds as other colleges and universities. Black athletes from Historically Black Colleges and Universities continue to look for a stage to display their talent. Despite some of the great recent success stories of former Historically Black College and University football players within the NFL, CFL, and AFL, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, as well as there players are more often left on the sidelines looking at the game from afar. The great numbers of All Conference players from Historically Black Colleges and Universities continue to mount up with no adjudication of why there are not many athletes from Historically Black Colleges and Universities given a legitimate chance to shine, with a chance to play professional football.

The NCAA has been around since 1906, and yet there has not been any sign of opportunity for a Historically Black College or University to be placed in the same spotlight as other colleges and universities. Despite recent meetings between congress and NCAA officials concerning the Bowl Championship Series (also known as the BCS) this past year in 2003, nothing has changed, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities are still standing looking from the outside of the big games in collegiate football. The House committee was quoted as saying, “The projected revenue for the four BCS games is $90 million, but only $6 million will go to the 55 non-BCS schools, while $80 million ends up with the 62 BCS schools. John Conyers of Michigan, a black congress man, who is also the committee’s top democrat said, “This conglomeration of money and power is having a cascading impact beyond major college football, as the de facto exclusion of non-BCS schools from major bowl games is resulting in those schools having lower athletic budgets, inferior athletic facilities, and rising deficits.” Steve Young, the former quarterback and teammate of former Mississippi Valley State University wide out Jerry Rice added, “the disparities hurt recruiting since athletes will sometimes choose to attend schools with a better shot of going to a bowl game.”

The big game, the main event, the championship game is what every player of any sport yearns to play within, so why is it that football players from Historically Black Colleges and Universities do not get that same opportunity to play in the championship game? The NCAA is like the store manager that hires the black guy to bag groceries for show and tell, but gives the black bagger no chance for advancement within the company. The Historically Black Colleges and Universities have attempted down through the years to form there own annual historical black football classics, but yet they still do not pull anywhere near the revenue that the BCS or any of the major college bowl games draw. The annual historical football classics do not get the big contracts from major company sponsors that the BCS and the other major bowl games receive from these large corporations. Recently in Detroit, the Detroit Lions defensive end Robert Porcher (whom attended South Carolina State University), along with other investors kicked off the Detroit Football Classic, which would place two highly competitive HBCU teams against each other at the newly built Ford Field, the home of the Detroit Lions. Porcher and other investors had a great turn out in numbers of patrons for the game, but yet they still struggled to get a television contract for lack of sponsorship. It is unfortunate that the NCAA would place Historically Black Colleges and Universities within these situations, when they have the “Bowl Championship Series” in place that is suppose to give each team a legitimate chance at a championship and eliminate argument of the Championship team of the season. This place many black athletes right where they were from day one, still trying to prove they belong.

Many HBCU athletes also continue to struggle to get invites to combines and to get professional teams to scout them on a regular basis despite success of former HBCU players. There was not one offensive skilled position player from a HBCU program invited to the NFL official combine last year, and barely a hand full of HBCU players period were invited to the combine. This despite the likes of Jerry Rice and the late Walter Payton (formerly of Jackson State University), arguably two of the top five players to play in the NFL came from HBCUs. Michael Strahan, the best defensive end in football came from Texas Southern University. In last years draft Rashean Mathis, a defensive back from Bethune Cookman, was the first player from a HBCU selected in the draft, thirty-seventh overall in the draft within the second round. Mathis started at corner for the Jacksonville Jaguars and recorded 71 tackles and 2 interceptions. Courtney Van Buren, a tackle from Arkansas Pine-Bluff, a third rounder made a impact in San Diego starting 7 games. Deeper in the draft Robert Mathis, a defensive end and linebacker from Alabama A & M, selected in the fifth round made an impact for the playoff bound Indianapolis Colts becoming there pass rush specialist, while sixth round draft selection Zuriel Smith from Hampton University became one of the leagues most electrifying kick returners for the Dallas Cowboys.

There has been great success of many Historically Black College and University players within the NFL and other professional settings, but yet the NCAA, the NFL, the CFL, the AFL, many sponsors, and other organizations continue to ignore the Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Every year there are superb players that come out of the HBCU programs, and every year there lacks the chance for these athletes to show professional scouts they are capable of playing professional football. There will come a new Jerry Rice, a new Walter Payton, a new Reshean Mathis, but the question still remains which executive of an organization or corporation will stand up for the HBCU player and give him a stage to display his talent to the world?

Here is a listing of the top 10 Historically Black College and University football players whose names will qualify for the NFL draft: 1. Isaac Hilton, Hampton University, Defensive End, 6′ 5″, 255 lbs.

2. Lenny Williams, Southern University, Cornerback, 6′, 195 lbs.

3. Steve Baggs, Bethune-Cookman, Outside Linebacker, 6′ 1″, 230 lbs.

4. Tramon Douglas, Grambling University, Wide Receiver, 6′ 1″, 205 lbs.

5. Tor El Robinson, Bethune-Cookman, Defensive Back, 6′ 2″, 211 lbs.

6. Robert Kent, Jackson State University, Quarterback, 6′ 5″, 220 lbs.

7. Albert Gamble, Morgan State University, Pass Rush Specialist, 6′ 2″, 234 lbs.

8. Levy Brown, Florida A & M, Defensive Back, 5′ 11″, 185 lbs.

9. Leonard Goolsby, South Carolina State U., Return Specialist, 5′ 11″, 190 lbs.

10. Chris Coleman, Alabama State University, Tight End, 6′ 3″, 240 lbs.