Known as the Bayou Classic, the football rivalry between Grambling and Southern began in 1932. The most popular annual game and rivalry in Historically Black College football, it is often informally referred to as “The Black Super Bowl”.
WATCH- Saturday Traditions: Rivals Unite- Grambling vs Southern
Saturday Traditions: Rivals Unite- Grambling vs Southern
The Battle of the Bands between Southerns “Human Jukebox” and Grambling’s “World Famed Tiger Marching Band” is just as popular, if not more than the football game. Approximately 250,000 people descend on New Orleans for the events leading up to the game, pouring in nearly $50 million into the local economy. The nationally televised game attracts an average of between four and five million viewers annually.
A big element of the experience is the Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Day Parade, which starts at the newly constructed Superdome in New Orleans and ends in the French Quarter. Another is when members of South Louisiana’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps run with the game ball approximately 100 miles from Southern’s campus in North Baton Rouge to the stadium for the annual “Bayou Classic Motivation Run.” The event happens the day before the game and takes between around 10 hours to complete. Members of the NROTC take turns running with the ball while a police escort follows them along the way.
Southern leads the overall series with 36 wins. Grambling is close behind with 32 victories. The first Bayou Classic was played in Tulane Stadium. It was moved to the Superdome in 1975 where it drew a record crowd of over 73,000 people.
Grambling has won 14 Black college national championships and four former Tigers – Buck Buchanan, Charlie Joiner, Willie Davis and Willie Brown – have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Two Southern Jaguar football alums – Aeneas Williams and Mel Blount – are also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In college football, tradition is everything, and the battle between historically black colleges Southern and Grambling State is a ritual unlike any other. Especially at halftime.
This is one of the biggest games in HBCU history, and with names such as Coach Eddie Robinson, Doug Williams, James Harris and Southern Coach Pete Richardson, this rivalry holds much more significance than what is witnessed on the field every year.