Rivalries seem to bring out the best in us. Traditions never change. As a young kid growing up in Baton Rouge , I became part of the family in this so called family tradition which includes the Grambling State and Southern University match up taking place in New Orleans. This game is coined the Bayou Classic. I remember as a young boy attending this game with my grandmother MAMA JAG , staying on Friday night in the Hyatt Regency. We attended all the functions which included the annual men’s basketball game between both schools. Back in those days, Grambling State was viewed as the bully while Southern was viewed as the so called pretty boy school. Dating back in the 40’s and 50’s , Southern would get the best of G-Men as a young coach named Eddie Robinson would try to make a name for himself. Southern’s Odie Posey and Grambling’s Tank Younger made the headlines. In the 60’s , Robinson went after size and size he had with Ernie Ladd and Buck Buchanan leading the way. Southern had the speed as Frank Pitts and Mel Blount paced the Jaguars. As integration begin to take whole, the 70’s offered change for many HBCU’s .
Both Grambling and Southern saw a dip in talent as many young black athletes saw opportunity in attending white universities. However some remained and it was enough to produce excitement at both schools. With the brain child of Grambling’s Collie Nicholson, the Bayou Classic was born in the fall of 1973. With crowds busting out the seems, Nicholson approached Southern’s administration about moving the game to a neutral site where everyone could enjoy. First stop, Shreveport’s Independence Stadium where nearly 50,000 attended the match up. The Tigers won 19-14 in that match up. The next year both schools agreed to take their show to New Orleans at the historic Tulane Stadium. The Tigers won that one 21-0. The G-Men dominated the series in the 70’s until 1979 when Southern pulled off a huge upset with a 14-7 victory. The 80’s rolled around and the G-Men got the best of the Jaguars. However, when Southern Athletic Director Marino Casem hired a up and coming Pete Richardson, the tide soon changed. Southern dominated the 90’s winning 9 out of the ten meetings between the teams. Former Tiger star Doug Williams took over as Eddie Robinson retired. Williams brought back some of the dominance as the G-Men split the series at 5 a piece. However , the last 6 years the Tigers and Jaguars have fought to a 3-3 series split.
This year’s game will be history in the making. Both teams currently sit at 7-0 with Southern hosting a 1-8 Mississippi Valley team while the Tigers travel to Houston to take on a 4-6 Texas Southern team . Both Jags and Tigers are expected to win and with that being said, history will be made as both teams come in undefeated playing for not only a birth in the SWAC Championship game , but for tradition as well as for bragging right s the new improve Bayou Classic trophy. History is being made at the Bayou Classic.