The Tigers rolled through the regular season a year ago to an unbeaten record in SWAC play en route to the program’s first conference championship in eight years. It could be argued — despite Jackson State’s perfect league outcome in 2021 — that the 2022 team will be even more dominant.
Alabama A&M — 1 year
The Bulldogs won its first SWAC championship in 13 seasons during the 2020 truncated COVID-19 campaign. Last season was a down year for Alabama A&M despite another sterling season from record-setting quarterback Aqeel Glass. The title drought might last longer than just a season with uncertainty at QB and contending in deep SWAC East.
Alcorn State — 2 years
For nearly a decade, the Braves ruled the SWAC, winning four titles and appearing in six conference championship games from 2014 to 2019. Alcorn State, now in the SWAC West, should be a favorite along with Grambling and Southern, though its mettle will be tested without Felix Harper.
Grambling State— 5 years
The Tigers are the last SWAC school to win the Celebration Bowl and the only SWAC West program to win the conference since 2017. Hope springs eternal for Grambling under first-year head coach Hue Jackson, who has already reshaped the roster with notable high school and transfer portal recruits.
Southern— 8 years
The Jaguars have played in four of the last nine SWAC Championship Games, winning its only title during that span in 2013. Can Southern get back to the summit under native son Eric Dooley?
Arkansas Pine-Bluff— 9 years
The Golden Lions unexpectedly reached the SWAC Championship Game in 2020 before falling a touchdown shy of earning the program’s second-ever league crown since divisional play began. With a much stronger Alcorn State, Grambling and Southern in the mix in the SWAC West, the climb back to the top of the heap will once again be unlikely.
Prairie View— 11 years
The Panthers played for the SWAC title in 2021 in what was the school’s best since the 2009 run that captured a dream championship for a program that hadn’t experienced a ton of winning in its history. However, the coach who led them to the brink of another league championship is now a division rival.
The Hornets competed in two championship games after the turn of the century before finally breaking through in 2004, led by future NFL quarterback Tavaris Jackson. Since then, Alabama State has finished either behind Alcorn State, Alabama A&M or Jackson State in the SWAC East standings.
Mississippi Valley State — 51 years
Even though the Delta Devils play in the sleepy town of Itta Bena, its program has produced players that have been inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame, College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame. Despite the likes of Jerry Rice, Willie Totten and Deacon Jones being college and pro legends, Mississippi Valley State is the only SWAC school to never play for a conference championship.
Texas Southern— 54 years
The Tigers last won a SWAC championship in 2010, but it was later vacated due to NCAA violations committed within the football program. Texas Southern officially hasn’t been the best in the SWAC since 1968 under then-head coach Clifford Paul.
Bethune Cookman — Never
The Wildcats, historically one of the better programs in the MEAC for a number of years, amassed eight championships in the conference before moving to the SWAC in 2021. Its first season in the new conference was an unkind one for BCU, going 2-9 overall and 2-6 in SWAC play.
Florida A&M — Never
The only HBCU program to ever win the FCS national championship, the Rattlers fell one game short in the standings behind Jackson State from playing for a SWAC title in its inaugural campaign in the league before settling for an at-large postseason berth in 2021.