Who is the best college football team of all time?
That is a question that only the survivors of America’s “Greatest Generation” can answer. In my limited 22 years, names like the University of Miami and Ohio State immediately come to mind. However, any answer I give will be lacking information primarily because my experience with college football is limited to the last two decades.
But I will say that based on what I have read and know to be true of black college football; the greatest college football team of all time would have to be any of the teams from Historically Black Colleges prior to integration.
Yes, Miami is great now and has been for the last couple of decades. But prior to the civil rights movement and integration, black college football was head and shoulders above its mainstream counterpart.
How can we compare teams today with those powerhouses of black talent? Imagine concentrating all of the talented black college football players scattered around the country into a group of maybe ten schools.High school football recruiting guru Tom Lemming of ESPN makes an annual trip around the nation scouting high school football. In his journal, on espn.com, last year he wrote about how 50 years earlier scouts wouldn’t scout black players, and how those black players, once allowed to join the establishment changed the game.
I say all that to say – no football team today is the best or greatest. One of the unintended consequences of integration was the loss of our black athletic talent to larger predominately white schools. If you are reading between the lines for hidden separatist philosophy, you won’t find any here. Integration is a necessary step to a free and open society.
But sometimes I wonder what if. What if all that talent had stayed “home”? Would the roles in our sometimes contentious relationship with FSU be reversed? Would the financial benefit make our school “The School?”
There is no way to tell, but it sure is nice to wonder.
What this discussion comes down to is who would you put your money on in a winner take all match? Jimmie Johnson and the Hurricanes of the late eighties or the great Paul “Bear” Bryant and Alabama.
Being a gambling man, I would let it ride on FAMU, Grambling or any other HBCU from that time when black college football meant more than just incredible halftime performances and really meant black college football.
Chris Mattox, 22, is a senior newspaper journalism student from Fort Lauderdale. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.