There is no doubt that HBCU football classics are one of the most popular and exciting events in all of black college sports. These games are annual celebrations that bring together like-minded alumni and fans from the old school to the new school. The match-ups typically feature fierce long time rivals that leave competitive fans eager to claim bragging rights. If you have ever had the privilege to attend a Classic you know it more than just a game – It’s a three-day affair. One that I decided to hire a campervan for instead of trying to find a room at the booked years in advance hotels. Similar to HBCU Homecomings, the Classic events typically include a parade, step-show, battle of the bands, college fair, comedy show, community outreach, alumni ball or gala, and of course the legendary tailgate party.
Unlike other bowl games, HBCU football classics are unique in that the biggest draw to the game is the halftime show. This has never been more apparent than in this year’s black college football season. Disruptions of two of the top Classics halftime show formats appear to be directly related to decreases in overall attendance numbers compared to the 2011 HBCU Classics. Below is a list of the top 5 HBCU football classic games for 2012.
1. Magic City Classic: 58,201 Fans: State Farm Magic City Classic Presented by Coca-Cola, is the reigning number one HBCU football classic, and is the largest in the country. Maintaining its position, the Classic saw a slight decrease from the 66,473 fans in attendance in 2011. The 71st edition of Magic City Classic was played on October 27, 2012. The game featured the annual battle of in-state rivals Alabama State University Hornets (ASU) vs. Alabama A&M University (AAMU) Bulldogs at the famed Legion Field in Birmingham, AL. The Hornets took a 31-13 victory over the Bulldogs earning their second Classic win in three years. The classic is a long time tradition dating back to 1924 with a record of 35-32-3, AAMU leading the series.
2. Bayou Classic: 45,980 Fans: The 39th annual State Farm Bayou Classic moves up two positions, making it the second largest HBCU Classic in the country. This event was held on November 24, 2012 in the newly renovated Mercedes-Benz Super Dome in New Orleans, LA. This historic match-up between rivals Grambling State University Tigers (GSU) and Southern University Jaguars (SU) is a Thanksgiving weekend tradition for alumni, families and fans. This year the Jaguars rallied to a 38-33 victory over the Tigers. This Classic has been around since 1974. GSU leads the series with a 20-19 record.
3. Southern Heritage Classic: 42,257 Fans: The Southern Heritage Classic Presented by FedEx surges up to the nation’s third largest HBCU classic, with the Atlanta and Florida Classic’s losses in attendance in 2012. The 23rd Annual Southern Heritage Classic was held on September 8, 2012. This gridiron battle between Jackson State University Tigers (JSU) and Tennessee State University Tigers (TSU) is one of the most storied rivalries in black college football. The game is played in the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. Memphis has been the classic’s home since 1990 and deeply in embodies in the city’s cultural heritage. This year TSU snapped JSU’s 2 game winning streak with a 38 -12 victory over JSU. TSU holds the series edge 25-20-2.
via Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis surges up to the nation’s third largest HBCU classic with 42,257 fans in attendance – JSUTigers.com – The Official Website of Jackson State University Athletics.