Byron Allen’s HBCU Go spotlights football season lineup with 3-hour Kickoff Show
Written by B87FM on August 30, 2023
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Fans of HBCU football were treated to a three-hour buffet in the HBCU Go Sports Kickoff Show, hosted by legendary broadcaster Charlie Neal at the Pro Football Hall of Fame museum in Canton, Ohio. He wasted no time telling everyone the stakes.
“This season, HBCU Go becomes the first network in history to bring you a full season of live doubleheader [HBCU football] games,” said Neal, standing inside the Black College Football Hall of Fame rotunda within the larger museum. He was surrounded by photos and artifacts from greats such as Walter Payton, Doug Williams, Steve McNair and coach Eddie Robinson.
HBCU Go broadcast 11 games last season but will nearly double that total this season. The action includes five classics, five homecomings and the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship game. There are 23 games total, also carried by theGrio and broadcast TV stations around the nation.
“We’re making history,” HBCU Go president and founder Curtis Symonds said. The goal is to bring awareness of Black college sports to a new level. “We want to drive the value and help young African-American kids understand that there’s a culture out there that can provide a good atmosphere in the sports world and also open doors if you play the game right.”
Hundreds of thousands of those kids dream about reaching the NFL and maybe even the Hall of Fame. One of those dreamers was Jerry Rice, who went from Mississippi Valley State to the San Francisco 49ers and eventually became the NFL’s all-time leading receiver. His alma mater kicks off HBCU Go’s schedule when it faces Central State (Ohio) in the Chicago Football Classic on Saturday, Sept. 2. The second game features Benedict, which won the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last season, against Shaw.
The Kickoff Show gave viewers a sense of what to expect by recapping top moments from 2022. They included a monster day from Alcorn State halfback Jarveon Howard, who carved up Arkansas-Pine Bluff for 295 yards and four touchdowns (with a long of 78 yards). Another game, between Mississippi Valley and Bethune-Cookman, featured three touchdown returns of 97-plus yards, with back-to-back kickoff returns as the topper.
Such exploits continue to carry over from HBCUs on Saturdays to NFL teams on Sundays. Javon Hargrave, a South Carolina State alum, was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016 and reached the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles last season. Then he signed a four-year, $84 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers. “I’ve been blessed to make it this far,” he said during an interview with the NFL Network’s Steve Wyche.
The road is a bit wider for players at Football Championship Schools, but players at NCAA Division II can reach their destination, too. HBCU Go will broadcast teams from the ballyhooed Southwestern Athletic Conference, as well as the lower-level SAIC and Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The latter produced Fayetteville State defensive back Joshua Williams, the first HBCU player drafted last season. He won a Super Bowl ring with the Kansas City Chiefs. But HBCU football is about more than NFL potential, won-loss records and statistics.
“We wanted to put a good product on the table and we accomplished that,” Symonds said. “The biggest feedback was how we helped people understand the culture of black college sports. We bring that culture and entertainment to the table. It’s everything and the game.”
The Kickoff Show was a great appetizer. Now it’s time to eat.
Deron Snyder, from Brooklyn, is an award-winning columnist who lives near D.C. and pledged Alpha at HU-You Know! He’s reaching high, lying low, moving on, pushing off, keeping up, and throwing down. Got it? Get more at blackdoorventures.com/deron.
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