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G-Men, Jags ready to clash in annual battle

20th November 2017   ·   0 Comments

AP Photo

AP Photo

Every year, as soon as they can fill up on turkey, oyster dressing, gumbo, stuffed mirlitons, sweet potato pie and a host of other delectable treats, tens of thousands of fans, alumni and supporters make their way to the City That Care Forgot for the annual Bayou Classic weekend that pits the Southern University Jaguars against the Grambling State University Tigers, their in-state rivals and SWAC West Division foes.

While the nationally televised game is clearly the centerpiece of the weekend, Bayou Classic festivities also include the heralded Battle of the Bands/Battle of the Greeks event the night before the big game, a career/college fair, parade, fan fest, Biz-Tech Challenge, Gospel brunch and a host of parties and other social gatherings.

“Because both of my parents and two of my older siblings went to Southern and several of my cousins and uncles went to Grambling, I have been coming to the Bayou Classic since I was in elementary school,” Kevin Franklin, a Tuskegee University grad, told The Louisiana Weekly. “It’s the premier Black college sporting event and a gathering that many people call the largest Black family reunion in America.

“No city is better prepared to host such an event than New Orleans, which many people call the most African city in America,” Franklin added. “I love everything about the Bayou Classic, the food, the fellowship, the camaraderie and the energy the Bayou Classic weekend brings to the city.”

Although the series between the two public historically Black universities dates all the way back to 1932, the inaugural Bayou Classic was held in New Orleans at Tulane Stadium in 1974.

The winning team in the spirited match up earns a trophy and bragging rights for 12 months.

Since 1990 the game has been held on the final Saturday in November, two days after Thanksgiving, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Bayou Classic has been held in New Orleans every year except 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city.

The game is considered the premier Black college sporting event and was nationally televised on NBC from 1991 to 2014. Since 2015 it has aired on the NBC Sports Network.

State Farm Insurance served as the Bayou Classic’s title sponsor from 1996 until 2011. It is still widely supported by a host of corporations and generates much-needed funds for scholarships for students attending the two Louisiana institutions.

Grambling State University can boast of sending many of its former athletes on to productive careers in the National Football League, among them Chicago Bears defensive back and New Orleans native Roosevelt Taylor, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sammy White and Washington Redskins quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams.

The Southern University Jaguars can also boast of an impressive list of former players who excelled in the NFL, among them former St. Louis Rams defensive back and NFL Hall of Famer Aeneas Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back and NFL Hall of Famer Mel Blount and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver and four-time NFL Pro-Bowler Harold Carmichael.

The Jags can also boast of having what many consider “the baddest band in the land,” Southern University’s much-heralded “Human Jukebox,” although the Grambling State University faithful might be inclined to disagree.

The G-Men triumphed in last year’s contest, winning by a score of 52-23 and earning the right to move on tot he SWAC title game against Alcorn State. Last year’s victory also gave GSU a slight edge in the hotly contested series, 22-21. Both teams were undefeated in conference play going into the Bayou Classic.

The Jags enter this year’s game with a 7-3 overall record (5-1 SWAC) and a chance to exact a little revenge for last year’s disappointing loss to the G-Men, who come into the game with a 9-1 overall record (7-0 SWAC).

The Battle of the Bands/Battle of the Greeks event is set for Friday, Nov. 24, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the game kicks off Saturday, Nov. 25, at 4:00 p.m. in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. For additional information about other Bayou Classic events, times and locations, visit

This article originally published in the November 20, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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