Times-Picayune, New Orleans, on the Bayou Classic
Times-Picayune, New Orleans, on the Bayou Classic:
A board member of the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District said last week that we should rethink the Thanksgiving weekend game that matches the Southern Jaguars against the Grambling State Tigers. Robert Bruno, referring to Grambling’s recent struggles on the field and to game attendance that’s a lot less than it used to be, suggested that Southern should play another team.
But it seems unlikely that the Bayou Classic will change. Nor should it. The game is a Louisiana tradition that brings an estimated $50 million economic impact to New Orleans. As for the idea of another match-up, the Bayou Classic name is jointly owned by Southern and Grambling. Consequently, if it’s not Southern and Grambling, it won’t be the Bayou Classic.
WWL-TV quoted Mr. Bruno talking about the Tigers’ recent struggles. The team started the 2013 season 0-7 and in October forfeited a game against Jackson State. That no-show prompted worries that there would be no Bayou Classic 2013. But Jackson State’s homecoming was the only game Grambling missed. In what was the 40th Bayou Classic meeting between Grambling and Southern, the Tigers lost 40-17 and finished their second consecutive season with a single win.
“If Grambling has fallen off that bad,” Mr. Bruno said, “maybe Southern could take the lead and it could be an earned-in game and bring in somebody else. I just don’t know if Grambling can carry the load.”
According to the head of the management company for the Bayou Classic, game attendance is not as high as it was before Hurricane Katrina, and it’s not as high as it was when Grambling’s legendary coach Eddie Robinson paced the sidelines. But, Dottie Belletto, the CEO and president of New Orleans Convention Company Inc., says, game attendance exceeds that of almost every other black college football classic. Currently, the only classic with more fans is the game in Birmingham, Ala., which features Alabama State and Alabama A&M.
Equally important, Ms. Belleto said, attendance at the Bayou Classic has been going up, not down. Besides all that, the two teams are now tied at 20 wins each. They’ve got to keep playing. Here’s to many more ties and tie-breakers down the road.