Celebration Bowl: End all or play in?


Quarterback Kylil Carter, graduate, throws football. Jamar Plunkett | Photography Editor | The A&T Register

Chris Samuel, theScore Reporter

The Celebration Bowl is the HBCU national championship, but what if it was a game that could lead a school to an even bigger reward?

At the end of each football season, the MEAC champion and the SWAC champion play each other in the Celebration Bowl to determine the best HBCU football team in the country.

The MEAC and SWAC are in the FCS and are the only Division I conferences for HBCU athletics, with that being said the Celebration Bowl is the only bowl that the winner of these conferences can participate in.

The FBS has its own four-team playoff format to determine their national champion while they have numerous bowl games for teams that win half of their regular season games.  This gives dozens of the schools the opportunity to win some type of opportunity to win a bowl game, a luxury that HBCU teams do not have the luxury of.

 In the FCS, 24 teams are placed in the playoffs with 10 automatic bids and 14 at-large bids.

North Carolina  A&T has won three of the last four Celebration Bowls and a buzz has gone around that the school should aim for more significant goals such as a FCS national championship. 

The set up for a hypothetical new ending to the season would be difficult to align since the FCS Playoffs start in late November and the MEAC regular football season ends around the same time.

The SWAC championship game is played at the end of their football season while the MEAC does not have a championship game and the team with the best conference record is declared the conference champion. 

 The delay in the Celebration Bowl also forces the two conferences to forbid their potential appearance in the FCS Playoffs. The game is usually played the Saturday before Christmas about a month after the regular season is finished.

A different route could be a play in-game for both conferences to compete in the FCS Playoffs. The Celebration Bowl could be a week or two after the regular season to determine an at-large bid.

With both the MEAC and SWAC being Division I-AA, the teams in those conferences don’t have as much leeway as other big-name conferences. A method of a play-in game would be similar to certain conferences in the NCAA Basketball to go to the NCAA Basketball Tournament, due to an at-large bid.

The  Celebration Bowl would not leave, but the team who wins the game would still be eligible to play in the playoffs to compete for the national title of FCS football. The runner-up of the game would lose their chance at the playoffs and go home.

A perceived attitude for this format would make teams feel like there’s something higher to aim for and that a team could potentially win not one but two trophies in the same year.

The champions of the MEAC and SWAC are still to be determined but the 2019 Celebration Bowl will take place on Dec. 21 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Atlanta, Georgia.