RATTLERS-WILDCATS GAME IS A BOOST FOR FLORIDA CLASSIC

The fashion. The women. The music. The tail gating. Did I mention the women? Oh..and the football game! Yes, that is what the Florida Classic is all about right, the football game? No. It’s about all of the above. And when the football teams are good, as were the 2010-2011 versions of the FAMU Rattlers and the B-CU Wildcats, the Florida Classic is all the better.

The Wildcats of B-CU came in riding a 10 game winning streak under their new head coach Brian Jenkins. The Rattlers came in 8-3, hoping to spoil the perfect season for the ‘Cats, and praying for a share of the MEAC championship. Even though the Rattlers were all but mathematically out of a playoff berth, Saturday’s game was  in essence, their season. After going into halftime behind 27-14, the Rattlers scored 24 un-answered points, and shut the Wildcat offense out in the second half to win 38-27. They now share the MEAC championship with the Rattlers getting rings for the first time since 2001.

Having been to several Florida Classic games as a member of the FAMU Marching 100, I’ve seen some good and some bad. I’ve seen some bad football. I’ve seen the malls in Tampa close early because they didn’t want “those kids” running through the mall. I’ve seen the move to Orlando, and the boost that move made for attendance and the spirit of the game. I’ve seen Disney World come in and give both schools and it’s alumni carte-blanche. I’ve also seen the mouse pick up his bags and take his sponsorship dollars elsewhere.

As all this was happening, I also saw the Bayou Classic, the annual meeting of Grambling State University and Southern University, get prime time coverage on a large 3 letter network. They even show the halftime show in it’s entirety! While the Fl. Classic saw a boost in attendance from 1997-2007 and even overshadowing the Bayou Classic, it still feels as if it is “Classic B” to their “Classic A”.

Both teams look to be contenders for the MEAC crown for years to come because of the coaching staffs and the level of players they recruit yearly. This can only bode well for the steady improvement of the Florida Classic from a game standpoint. Sure the tailgaters will be there, the vendors will be there, and the women will be there. But when the teams are good, the Florida Classic is better. Let’s hope this trend continues.

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