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Report: Bayou Classic discusses replacing Grambling

Jaleel Richardson

Few games from the world of FCS football receive much national exposure. Aside from The Game between Ivy League rivals Harvard and Yale, the most notable or recognizable FCS game each year may be the Bayou Classic, played in New Orleans between Grambling and Southern. The two schools have faced each other each season since 1974 and feature the most entertaining halftime show in college football with the battle of the bands. Despite the history and tradition of the game, organizers of the Bayou Classic could be looking to mix things up in the future.

According to a report by WWLTV.com, managers of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the host site for the Bayou Classic, have discussed potentially replacing Grambling as a participant. Low attendance by Grambling fans in recent years is to blame. Grambling has an enrollment of just under 5,000 students. It should be noted Southern has roughly double the enrollment of Grambling.

“If Grambling has fallen off that bad, maybe Southern could take the lead and it could be an earned-in game and bring in somebody else,” said Robert Bruno, the commissioner of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District. “I just don’t know if Grambling can carry the load.”

The 2011 Bayou Classic saw a crowd of 40,175 attend the game. That marked the lowest attendance for the game in 38 years. From 2000 through 2004 the game had an average attendance of 70,198 fans, before Hurricane Katrina blew through the area. The game has rebounded with attendance since Katrina though, although the numbers continue to trend downward. The 2012 game saw just 32,000 fans attend. Is Grambling to blame, and would replacing the Tigers with another program help reverse the attendance trend?

Grambling is coming off two dismal seasons and last year may have been the ultimate low point in the program’s history with players coming together to skip out on practices and forcing a boycott. Now, as the program looks to restore the pride that has been a part of the history of the school, the possibility of being replaced in one of the true iconic games on the football schedule would be a shame.

There could be a couple of different plans in the works for the Bayou Classic, including moving it from the annual post-Thanksgiving spot on the calendar. Would moving the game to the start of the season fix the attendance problem? It could, although it would fall even farther in the pecking order of games earlier in the season. Holding the game after Thanksgiving gives the game a chance to draw in a wider audience.

There has been no word on what school or schools have been considered as alternatives to Grambling, but for the sake of tradition here’s to hoping Grambling can convince the organizers to keep the school involved.

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11 Responses to “Report: Bayou Classic discusses replacing Grambling”
  1. planecrashguy says: Jun 19, 2014 10:45 AM

    NBC holds the broadcast rights to the Bayou Classic, let’s hope they can make sure Grambling stays part of this important FCS/HBC fixture game.

  2. dsharpe8 says: Jun 19, 2014 10:53 AM

    How about adding my beloved Jackson State to the Bayou Classic since Grambling screwed us over our homecoming game. We would definitely fill up the seats in the Super Dome along with a strong alumni following across the country. JSU Class of ’07

  3. manik56 says: Jun 19, 2014 11:14 AM

    Red River Shootout is talking about replacing Texas…it wouldn’t be the Shootout without Texas (and Oklahoma) and it wouldn’t be The Bayou Classic without Grambling (and Southern).

  4. cometkazie says: Jun 19, 2014 11:24 AM

    How many SWAC kids have made it to the NFL over the past five years?

  5. pawloosa says: Jun 19, 2014 3:12 PM

    If Grambling does indeed get the boot from the Bayou Classic then changes need to be made…. The idea of limiting this game to one HBC against another needs to be thrown out and the game needs to be opened up to other schools outside the HBC communities…

  6. psly2124 says: Jun 19, 2014 4:24 PM

    Just do away with the game. No one watches and no one attends. Seems pretty obvious what to do with it.

  7. cometkazie says: Jun 19, 2014 4:54 PM

    psly2124 says:
    Jun 19, 2014 4:24 PM
    Just do away with the game. No one watches and no one attends. Seems pretty obvious what to do with it.
    +-+-+

    It’s a regular season SWAC game and will be played anyway.

    Recently, neither school has had much in the way of teams.

  8. v2the4 says: Jun 19, 2014 8:42 PM

    manik 56…just an FYI….UT and OU extended their series at the Cotton Bowl until the 2025 season, and each team is guaranteed $500k plus a split of the tickets, which could amount to another $1.8M each. The game has been played at the Cotton Bowl since 1929 and has been sold out for 64 straight seasons….what other neutral site rivalry game can say that?

    as for Grambling/Southern….if they dont play at the Superdome, then where will they play? gramblings stadium is one par with a small high school and only fits around 10k….I think the Bayou Classic isnt really about the game anyway…its about the bands, the festivities, Bourbon Street, parties and all things New Orleans…..you just cant put Jackson St, Prairie View or any other HBCU in Gramblings spot..

  9. v2the4 says: Jun 19, 2014 8:45 PM

    not to mention, the game is a big revenue maker for both schools with the money nbc pays them and what they make at the gate…..plus, its a big money maker for the local economy with people coming to spend their money in the area on thanksgiving weekend.

  10. cometkazie says: Jun 19, 2014 9:24 PM

    v2the4 says:
    Jun 19, 2014 8:42 PM

    as for Grambling/Southern….if they dont play at the Superdome, then where will they play? gramblings stadium is one par with a small high school and only fits around 10k….I think the Bayou Classic isnt really about the game anyway…its about the bands, the festivities, Bourbon Street, parties and all things New Orleans…..you just cant put Jackson St, Prairie View or any other HBCU in Gramblings spot..
    +-+-+

    BINGO!

    Hit the nail on the head.

  11. mdp44 says: Jun 19, 2014 9:30 PM

    I consider myself a big college football fan and I never watch this game. I could care less.

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