The energy and buzz at the 2022 SWAC Football Media Day were still in the air after several hours. The session was winding down, and I completed an interview with "Thee Pregame Show" and "HBCU Sports Lab" co-host Charles Bishop. I looked to my left, and the interviewee I was gunning for, Coach Eddie Robinson Jr. of Alabama State, was exiting the room with other prominent SWAC coaches. I had to grab my fellow native New Orleanian! But a legend appeared and was walking directly towards me. I can get Robinson later, but the legendary Charlie Neal was a must-interview for HBCU Legends.
Mr. Neal, would you grant me an interview? He graciously answered, Yes, and the rest was history. I grew up listening to Mr. Neal's broadcasts - his professionalism and knowledge are incomparable.
"One quick question," I asked. "How great was this media day?"
"This is one of the better ones I've ever seen." Mr. Neal's velvety voice responded. "Especially with the SWAC. And all the interest, and it reminded me of going to the Super Bowl. Everybody's sitting around a table, and all the media trying to get interviews with the stars of the game. And it was a great turnout. It's great for the SWAC. It's great for HBCU football."
Mr. Neal was correct. The SWAC Football Media Day has grown from a few media professionals covering the league years ago to the two hundred plus attending on Thursday, July 21 in Birmingham, Alabama.
I asked Mr. Neal for his opinion on the SWAC's upcoming season. "Well, the season promises to be great, " Neal excitedly remarked. "Twelve teams all competing for that SWAC Championship and a chance to go to the Celebration Bowl at the end of the season, that's what it's all about. Everybody came in here, and right now, it's 0-0 in terms of a team's record. So, you know, they're going to have to get at it when they when they blow the whistle and kick it off. It will be every man for himself."
Charlie Neal was correct. The records are even 0. Still, the electricity is already energizing the SWAC. From the interviews I held at the SWAC Football Media Day, the players and coaches were "chompin' at the bit" and eager to take the field. They were politically correct and guarded so as not to incite controversy. Southern's head coach Eric Dooley told me it would be "asinine" to go into games preparing to lose. Mark Evans II of UAPB said he "wants a SWAC championship" in his senior campaign. As well as Texas Southern's quarterback Andrew Body says he is "ready for the challenge" in 2022.