The HBCU-Pro Sports Media Association has named the North Carolina Central Eagles (10-2, 4-1 MEAC) their Major Division National Champion and Benedict College (11-1, 8-0 SIAC) their Mid-Major Division National Champion for the 2022 football season. Their selections as National Champions were unanimous choices by the 20 voters of the 50 member association, receiving 200 points each.
The selection of the MEAC Co-Champions was based upon the 41-34 overtime victory in the Celebration Bowl versus a previously unbeaten and number one ranked Jackson State (12-1, 8-0 SWAC). The SWAC Champion Tigers were the pre-season number one selection by the organization and held the ranking for the entire season. Jackson State received every vote for second place, totaling 180 points. Florida A&M (9-2, 7-1 SWAC), the runner-up in the SWAC East Division, gained all of the third place votes, good for 160 points. North Carolina A&T State (7-4, 4-1 Big South), the runner-up in their final season in the Big South Conference, tallied 133 points to finish fourth in the voting. SWAC runner-up and West Division Champion, Southern Jaguars (7-4, 5-3), completed the top five positions with 124 points.
The next five in the voting were led by the Prairie View A&M Panthers (6-5, 5-3 SWAC), who finished second in the SWAC West and gained 99 points. Alabama State (6-5, 4-4 SWAC), third place finishers in the SWAC East, gained 81 points for the seventh position. The Howard Bison (5-6, 4-1 MEAC), MEAC Co-Champions, were eighth in the poll, receiving 43 points. Alcorn State (5-6, 4-4 SWAC) and Texas Southern (5-6, 4-4 SWAC) finished the conference season and overall season with identical records, and also finished the final HBCU-PSMA poll with identical point totals at 35 and tied at the ninth position.
For North Carolina Central, they joined South Carolina State as the National Champions, voted on by the HBCU-Pro Sports Media Association. The Eagles were led by MEAC Coach of the Year Trei Oliver, Celebration Bowl Offensive MVP and MEAC Offensive Player of the Year Davious Richard, and Celebration Bowl Defensive MVP and MEAC Defensive Player of the Year, Khalil Baker. For the Eagles, this is their fourth HBCU National Championship, joining teams in 1954, 2005, and 2006. This is their first title on the FCS level, as the others were won on the NAIA or NCAA Division II level. The 10 wins are tied for second most in program history with the NCCU 2005 team. The 2006 Eagle team holds the program record with 11 victories.
Benedict (11-1, 8-0 SIAC) entered its last game versus Wingate as one of only four undefeated teams in the football classification, but came up short against the top rated defense in NCAA DII, 23-6, to end their season. Benedict has spent most of the season in the top five, finally claiming the top spot in week nine, and never letting go of it. BC has key wins against Fort Valley State, Albany State, and Tuskegee. The Tigers more than doubled their victories from the previous season, having gone 5-5 in 2020. Virginia Union (9-2, 7-1 CIAA) sat as the top team in the Mid-Major poll from week three until week eight, when they were upset at home by CIAA North Division Champion, Chowan. During the season, the Panthers picked up key wins against Valdosta State, Fayetteville State, and Virginia State. The VUU season came to an end when they lost to Wingate in the opening round of the playoffs, 32-7. CIAA Champion, Fayetteville State (9-3, 8-1 CIAA) earned the bronze medal in the poll by finishing third in the poll. The Broncos earned key wins versus Chowan (twice), Shaw, and UNC Pembroke. FSU lost to Delta State, 51-0, in the opening round of the playoffs.
Fort Valley State (8-2, 6-1 SIAC), who felt like they should have had a spot in the NCAA DII playoffs, finished the season in the four position. SIAC West Division Champion and runner-up, Tuskegee (8-3, 7-1 SIAC), who picked up their 700th program victory during the season, was fifth, to round out the top five. Albany State (7-3, 5-2 SIAC), who spent the entire season in the top five, finished sixth after their loss to Fort Valley State in the season-ending Fountain City Classic. Pre-Season number one, Bowie State (6-4, 5-3 CIAA), had a disappointing season by Bulldog standards, and was in seventh place in the poll. West Virginia State (7-4, 6-4 MEC), while competing in the tough Mountain East Conference, finished in the eight position. Virginia State (6-4, 5-3 CIAA) finished third in the CIAA-North and earned the ninth spot in the HBCU-PSMA poll. The lone NAIA program in the poll, Langston (6-4, 5-4 SAC), ran into a gauntlet during the back half of the Sooner Athletic Conference schedule, but held on to the final position in our top ten poll.
Pollsters comprise a cross-section of HBCU media members, including eight different media organizations. These voters cover all four HBCU football-playing conferences, along with HBCU conference independents, and reside in 12 different states.
MAJOR DIVISION POLL (FINAL)
|1||North Carolina Central||200||20||2|
|4||North Carolina A&T State||133||5|
|6||Prairie View A&M||99||6|
Others receiving votes: Delaware State (4), Hampton (4), Alabama A&M (2), Tennessee State (2)
Dropped out: None
MID-MAJOR DIVISION POLL (FINAL)
|4||Fort Valley State||129||4|
|8||West Virginia State||56||8|
Other receiving votes: Lane (16)
Dropped out: None
About the HBCU Pro-Sports Media Association
Founded in 2020, the HBCU-Pro Sports Media Association is an organization that includes (but not limited to) journalists, photographers, broadcasters, reporters, editors, and sports-information directors dedicated to the coverage and support, both on and off the field, of historically black college sports and HBCU alumni athletes who become professionals. For more information, log onto www.hbcuprosportsmedia.com.
Prepared by HBCU-PSMA member A.D. Drew of the Black College Sports Network and D2Football.com.