The SWAC Championship Game is an American college football game held on the first Saturday in December by the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) each year to determine its football champion. The game pits the champion of the Eastern Division against the champion of the Western Division in a game that follows the conclusion of the regular season. The game's current corporate sponsor is Farmers Insurance and the game has been held annually at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama since the first contest in 1999.
Following the 1998 season, the SWAC announced that the league would be split into two divisions with the divisional winners meeting in a championship game. At the time of the announcement, a site for the game had not been selected but the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, the Astrodome in Houston, the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson, Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile and Legion Field in Birmingham were each mentioned as potential locations for the event. Additionally, expansion of the league to twelve teams was also under consideration with Tennessee State, Florida A&M, Tuskegee and Morris Brown mentioned as possible additions. In February 1999, a championship game was officially approved by the SWAC Council of Presidents. Officials also stated the winner of the championship game would advance to play in the Heritage Bowl against an opponent from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC).
The following May, SWAC officials announced the league offices would move from New Orleans to Birmingham and that the championship game would be played at Legion Field. Birmingham was selected over New Orleans, Houston, Baton Rouge and Memphis as the city guaranteed both free office space to house the league headquarters and free access to Legion Field to host the game. The inaugural game was played on December 11, with Southern defeating Jackson State 31–30 before 47,621 fans at Legion Field. The following week, Southern lost to Hampton in the Heritage Bowl; however, the meeting would be the only one for the SWAC champion following the championship game. In January 2000 the NCAA ruled schools cannot compete in two postseason games, effectively ending participation in the Heritage Bowl by the SWAC champion. With the SWAC left unable to compete, the Heritage Bowl folded in February 2000.
In July 2010, commissioner Duer Sharp announced the SWAC was interested in participating in the Legacy Bowl against the MEAC to determine the annual black college football national championship. Although a decision regarding the contest has been postponed to 2011, SWAC participation in the event would potentially end the annual championship game in Birmingham.
When the game was initially proposed, the teams playing in the championship game was to include those with the best record against seven conference opponents from each division. However in August 1999 league officials changed the rule. For the inaugural contest, participation in the championship game was based on the record against the four divisional opponents only, not all conference teams. This format was dropped by the SWAC following the 1999 championship game in favor of the original proposal based on all league games, not only the divisional opponents.
|Year||Eastern Division||Western Division||Attendance||MVP||Reference|
|1999||Jackson State||30||Southern||31||47,621||WR Michael Hayes, Southern|||
|2000||Alabama A&M||6||Grambling State||13||34,687||DB Calvin Spears, Grambling State|||
|2001||Alabama State||31||Grambling State||38||38,487||RB Kendrick Shanklin, Grambling State|||
|2002||Alabama A&M||19||Grambling State||31||23,727||QB Bruce Eugene, Grambling State|||
|2004||Alabama State||40||Southern||35||22,327||QB Tarvaris Jackson, Alabama State|||
|2005||Alabama A&M||6||Grambling State||45||20,612||QB Bruce Eugene, Grambling State|||
|2006||Alabama A&M||22||Arkansas – Pine Bluff||13||30,213||DL Johnny Baldwin, Alabama A&M|||
|2007||Jackson State||42||Grambling State||31||43,206||QB Jimmy Oliver, Jackson State|||
|2008||Jackson State||9||Grambling State||41||25,873||QB Greg Dillion, Grambling State|||
|2009||Alabama A&M||24||Prairie View A&M||30||20,218||QB K. J. Black, Prairie View A&M|||
|2010||Alabama State||6||Texas Southern||11||22,350||LB Dejuan Fulghum, Texas Southern|||
|Totals||3 Wins||214||9 Wins||339|
Results by teamEdit
|1||Prairie View A&M||1||0||1.000|
|1||Arkansas – Pine Bluff||0||1||.000|
|0||Mississippi Valley State||0||0||N/A|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Crenshaw, Jr., Solomon. "SWAC will split into divisions, add championship game", December 4, 1998, p. 1D.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 AP Reporters. "SWAC will split into two divisions", December 3, 1998.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 AP Reporters. "Conference presidents approve SWAC championship game", February 8, 1999.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Crenshaw, Jr., Solomon. "SWAC expected to announce it's moving to Birmingham", May 4, 1999, p. 1A.
- ↑ Robinson, Fred. "N.O. lets SWAC leave town; League heading to Birmingham", May 5, 1999, p. D1.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Schiefelbein, Joseph. "Big-play champs: Jaguars capture third straight SWAC crown", December 12, 1999, p. 1C.
- ↑ Staff Reporters. "Richardson unfazed by Heritage Bowl change", January 19, 2000, p. 1D.
- ↑ Staff Reporters. "Heritage Bowl discontinued", February 11, 2000, p. 9D.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Grant, Jr., Thomas. "Commissioner: Legacy Bowl 'no-brainer' for SWAC", July 29, 2010. Retrieved on January 10, 2011.
- ↑ Grant, Jr., Thomas. "Legacy Bowl decision off until spring", August 31, 2010. Retrieved on January 10, 2011.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 Schiefelbein, Joseph. "SWAC format for title game changes", August 18, 1999, p. 7D.
- ↑ Guilbeau, Glenn. "SWAC division plan good one", August 22, 1999, p. 1C.
- ↑ Schiefelbein, Joseph. "SWAC alters format to include all league games", December 12, 1999, p. 11C.
- ↑ Norris, Toraine. "Trick play backfires on A&M, Lifts Grambling to SWAC title", December 3, 2000.
- ↑ Segrest, Doug. "Grambling overtakes Hornets in the second half", December 2, 2001.
- ↑ Schiefelbein, Joseph. "Defense bounces back: Grambling defenders turn tide with fumble recoveries", December 2, 2001, p. 10C.
- ↑ Schiefelbein, Joseph. "Grambling wins, with defense: Tigers capture third straight SWAC Championship Game trophy with help from big stop", December 15, 2002, p. 10C.
- ↑ Perrin, Mike. "Mistakes sting ASU: Hornets can't overcome costly penalties in SWAC title game", December 14, 2003.
- ↑ Schiefelbein, Joseph. "Back in business: Jaguars win SWAC title with grit", December 14, 2003, p. 1C.
- ↑ Perrin, Mike. "Hornets finish off second SWAC title", December 12, 2004, p. 1C.
- ↑ Schiefelbein, Joseph. "Fast and loose; Williams gets untracked as Hornets win scorefest for SWAC title over Jaguars", December 12, 2004, p. 1C.
- ↑ Benson, Reggie. "A SWAC smack", December 11, 2005, p. 1C.
- ↑ Schiefelbein, Joseph. "Eugene leads Grambling to SWAC championship", December 11, 2005, p. 1C.
- ↑ Perrin, Mike. "To the rescue Rookie QB, swarming defense spark A&M to first title", December 17, 2006, p. 1B.
- ↑ Cross, Beck. "SWAC Championship; UAPB's hopes wilt in 2nd half", December 17, 2006, p. 1C.
- ↑ Jones, James. "Comegy's Tigers earn SWAC championship; Team rebuilt in less time than expected", December 16, 2007, p. C1.
- ↑ SWAC, p. 91
- ↑ Solomon, Jerome. "A long time coming: Panthers dodge game-ending scare, hoist first title trophy in 45 years", December 12, 2009. Retrieved on January 9, 2010.
- ↑ Solomon, Jerome. "TSU beats Alabama State 11–6 to claim SWAC crown", December 12, 2010. Retrieved on January 9, 2010.
- ↑ Segrest, Doug. "Big defense, backup QB deliver Texas Southern victory against Alabama State", December 11, 2010. Retrieved on January 9, 2010.