They are the lone black sports conferences in the NCAA Division One. The two do not meet often, but the question of whether the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference or the Southwestern Athletic Conference is better, weighs on the minds of fans in each conference.
The MEAC and SWAC are the only two, of all four HBCU athletic conferences with Division 1 status, that are sanctioned by the NCAA.
Joe Taylor, head coach of the Florida A&M University football team, said a few years ago, commissioners from both conferences approached ESPN Regional TV with the idea of showcasing a football team from each conference in an annual game played at a neutral place. This event, the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, is in its’ fourth year.
Taylor said the Challenge is getting much more exposure, “We’ve just got to appreciate what both commissioners are doing in terms of promoting the MEAC and the SWAC.”
Alcorn State University’s (SWAC) head football coach, Ernest Jones agreed with Taylor.
“What better format than to put both conferences out there in front for the entire nation to see, for all the recruits to see, for everybody,” Jones said.
Roy Johnson, quarterbacks’ coach for Hampton University (MEAC) said the MEAC/SWAC challenge gives black college football more publicity.
“Were trying to market our product, which is football on a national stage. It’s kind of hard when [you have] the major BCS conferences and everybody wants to be on television,” Johnson said. “So this gives us the opportunity to showcase our talents in terms of players, coaches.”
The most recent MEAC/SWAC challenge was a 17-13 victory by HU over Jackson State Aug. 31.
When making analytical inquiry about recent scores and statistics, some may agree that the MEAC is more competitive and has more talented players than the SWAC.
“If you go by the numbers, it would point to the MEAC being superior,” Taylor said.
Coach Johnson of Hampton (MEAC) said that the MEAC is the more proficient conference.
“Our competition is greater. You’re going to get closer games,” Johnson said. “You’re not going to get teams that’s dominating the other team because our competition has improved over the years.”
Jones said the SWAC is the better conference of the two largely due to the rich background associated with the participating teams.
“There’s more history in the SWAC. ” Jones said. “You’ve got more historical programs-culture, players, it’s just a better football conference in my opinion.”
With the SWAC having produced NFL greats like Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Steve McNair, some coaches of MEAC teams also agree that the SWAC has a deeper history.
“I would think in the past that the SWAC had a larger tag to it,” Taylor said.
Johnson also agrees that the SWAC has richer history.
“Historically, you could say that the SWAC was more of the football conference [where players were being drafted from],” Johnson said. “The SWAC has had more guys that have done well in the NFL-I just think they have more historically.”