The first college football game between Historically Black Colleges and Universities was played on December 27, 1892 when Biddle University traveled to Livingstone, NC to play Livingstone College. Today Biddle is known as Johnson C. Smith University. On a snow-covered field Biddle scored the game’s only touchdown and won 4-0. During this era of football, touchdowns only counted for 4 points.
HBCU football experienced its greatest growth during the 1920’s coinciding with the significant increase in circulation experienced by African-American newspapers. One of the most influential of the time was the Pittsburgh Courier. Their roster featured many renowned sports writers throughout the years including Wendell Smith, Chester Washington and Bill Nunn and the Associated Negro Press distributed many of the Courier’s articles nationally to other black-owned newspapers. In 1920 the Courier selected their first-ever national championship team and in 1925 picked their first All-America team.
The Courier All-America selections were published in major African-American newspapers throughout the country and each January the Courier would hold a banquet in Pittsburgh to honor the All-America team. The annual ceremony ended in 1979 with the Courier’s final all-America team. In 1980, the Mutual Black Network began selecting an All-America team to continue the proud tradition. The MBN became known as Sheridan Broadcasting Network and operates today as the American Urban Radio Network. The organization still plays a major role in selecting HBCU All-America teams along with newcomer Box-to-Row which announced its first selections in 2007.
The Sheridan Network also returned to the tradition of an annual banquet – The Black College Football Banquet – honoring the All-America players, the HBCU National Championship Team and the newest inductees into the Black College Football Hall of Fame. The 2016 ceremony will be hosted at the College Football Hall of Fame and Chick-fil-A Fan Experience on our Playing Field this February.