The HBCU versus Power 5 debate has raged on in the revenue sports (football and men’s basketball) for decades with no signs of slowing down.
Alabama’s two Division I HBCU football programs seem to be ready to lean into competing against the Auburns and Alabamas of the world – at least during springtime.
Last month, Auburn University head coach Hugh Freeze suggested turning statewide spring games from intra-squad competition to scrimmages against other Division I football programs in the state. Freeze also proposed revenue from the games to go charities and causes of the schools’ choosing, as well as the games providing an opportunity for fans from each school to meet their teams and draw interest and excitement for the coming season.
Both ASU head coach Eddie Robinson Jr. and AAMU head coach Connell Maynor were asked by Alabama Media Group college writer Nick Alvarez about the possibility of playing either Auburn or Alabama and they were on board with the possibilities.
“You want to test your guys and you want to test them against somebody besides yourself,” Maynor said. “That’d be a great idea to play an Alabama or Auburn.
“The biggest thing is not to get anyone hurt. I think it would be really cool,” Robinson added. “Even if it was against a school like Troy, it would be pretty good.”
Exposure matters at all levels of sport, especially in college. The more eyes on your team, the better Alabama State and Alabama A&M could benefit from not just getting a taste of big-name and big talent competition but also get more eyes on their programs as they prepare for battle against SWAC foes such as Grambling, Southern and Jackson State.
Players will learn just what it takes to turn themselves into not just a great football team but possibly work themselves into consideration for the NFL Draft, an issue of concern this past spring with just one HBCU player – Isaiah Bolden of Jackson State – drafted among 259 players over seven rounds.
Coaches like Maynor and Robinson, who really don’t need much help, can still take bits and pieces from what coaches such as Freeze and Nick Saban do with their programs and develop their programs in a unique way.
The recruiting aspect would be an important bonus for ASU and AAMU. Not everyone can go to Alabama, Auburn, Troy or UAB. Players that might be considered on the fringe for those programs could become the next SWAC legends, following in the footsteps of Pro Football Hall of Famers such as Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State), Mel Blount, Aeneas Williams (both from Southern) and Alabama A&M’s own John Stallworth.
While spring games don’t necessarily tell you everything about a team, they still serve as fun events for fans, students and alumni to check out the teams and enjoy a nice day outside in the process. Alabama State and Alabama A&M are wise to throw their names into the hat because while no one expects them to win a spring game (because who actually wins a spring game), they could win the battle for potential players and make some new fans along the way.
Leave a Reply