Thursday, November 22, 2007

What the Bayou Classic Means

Lemme break it down for you:
There's this biiiig Battle of the Bands every Thanksgiving weekend.
It's called the State Farm Bayou Classic. Publicly it's the annual college football game between the Grambling State University Tigers and the Southern University Jaguars.
In practice it is the largest family reunion in the United States, with upwards of 200,000 visitors to the city to meet, greet, eat, celebrate annually.
You meet up with old classmates, distant relatives, former colleagues and neighbors and more importantly you get reaquainted with dear, old Nola.
The Classic was first held in 1974 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. Since 1978 the game has been held the final Saturday in November at the Louisiana Superdome. A Waterford crystal trophy is awarded to the winning school.
The game has had State Farm Insurance as its primary sponsor since 1996.
Southern leads the series 17-16, and claims the longest winning streak, 8 games from 1993-2000.
It is the best known game and rivalry in historically black college football and is televised by NBC, which i spoke of in an earlier post. The Bayou Classic is the only NCAA Division I - Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) game to be shown nationally on broadcast television.
Both schools typically forego Division I-AA playoff elegibility to participate in the lucrative Bayou Classic.
Like I said, before the actual football game is just a formality. The most well-known and well-attended is the Battle Of The Bands, where both schools' marching bands (the Grambling State University Tiger Marching Band and the Southern University Marching Band, also known as the Human Jukebox) stage elaborately choreographed performances at halftime and before and following the game.

The Classic was the biggest stage for college football's biggest name at one time, Grambling coach the late Eddie Robinson. He was literally a Tiger, the winningest coach in college football history when he retired. Super Bowl winning quarterback Doug Williams succeeded Robinson as Grambling coach before going to the front office of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he started his NFL career.
The success of the Bayou Classic is a major source of tourism revenue to the city of New Orleans, and has inspired the promotion of numerous other HBCU rivalries as "Classics", often played at neutral sites in distant cities.

Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, organizers moved the 2005 event from the Superdome to Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, where many of New Orleans' evacuees were living.
The 2006 Bayou Classic returned to the Superdome in New Orleans. This year marks the second year in a row the Classic has returned to its rightful home. Enjoy the game.

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