All season long, the SWAC has been billing its football championship game as “The Final Judgment.”
Increasingly, that’s looking like an ironic indictment of the commissioner and the football championship game itself as Thursday turned into a day-long drama that could have long-reaching implications.
SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp has resigned his role, first reported by HBCU Sports early Thursday morning. Sources told HBCU Gameday that an alleged mismanagement of funds by the conference contributed heavily to the council of presidents voting not to renew his contract, which was set to end next summer.
Sharp oversaw a number of changes during his time as commissioner, which started in 2008. They included moving from a nine-game conference schedule, in which every school plays the others, to a seven-game schedule, which allows for more out of conference games as well as the creation of the Celebration Bowl.
It also included the largely unpopular decision to vacate the SWAC Championship Game after 2017.
With Sharp stepping out of the picture, there is talk that the SWAC’s Championship Game might not be dead yet. That would make a lot of SWAC fans happy, as the game was a nationally televised showcase, something that pretty much every school not named Grambling or Southern desperately wants and needs.
As for this year’s game, there are plenty of compelling storylines.
For the third-straight year the SWAC title will come down to Grambling and Alcorn State. Alcorn State took the first game in 2015, winning in a 49-21 blowout over Grambling, which was just two seasons removed from the disastrous 2013 season. Last year it was Martez Carter and DeVante Kincade coming up with a big second half to lift Grambling back to the top of the SWAC.
Heroes from both those games, including both Grambling’s offensive stars and Alcorn State’s Lenorris Footman will put it all on the line in hopes that they will still have one more game. As in the previous two seasons, the winner will head to Atlanta in two weeks to play in the Celebration Bowl.
Alcorn came up short against A&T in its appearance in the inaugural game in 2015, while Grambling emerged from the now-historic Georgia Dome with a 10-9 win over North Carolina Central last year.
As stated above, there’s obviously a lot up in the air with the SWAC going forward. But if the game itself is half as eventful as the days leading up to it, it should be one to remember.