This past February, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) and Tuskegee (Ala.) University, two of college football’s most successful programs, announced a joint partnership with the Mobile, Ala. Sports Authority (MSA) and promoter Robert Buck, to reprise their gridiron rivalry which dates back more than 100 years, in the first 5th Quarter Classic.
This intersectional showdown is set for Saturday, September 17 at historic Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile. Kickoff is 6 p.m. central time, and will be the first “Classic style” football game played in Mobile since 2009.
The Gulf Coast Classic was played in Mobile for 35 years from 1974-2009 with Alabama State University being the home team every year. However, that game was discontinued after the 2009 Classic. FAMU played Alabama State in the 1990 Classic, dropping a wild 44-32 shootout to the Hornets.
THE FAMU-TUSKEGEE SERIES
The game pits Tuskegee’s Golden Tigers, which rank number two all-time in NCAA Division Two in program victories (628 in 120 years), and number 10 in all-time winning percentage (.641), against the Rattlers of FAMU, who rank seventh in NCAA Division I FCS in winning percentage (.651), and in the Top 25 (22nd) in program victories (575 in 99 years).
Both schools have produced 29 SIAC championship football teams – Tuskegee since 1917; and FAMU between 1937 and 1978 – the pair have a combined 18 Black College National Championships (FAMU, 12; Tuskegee, 6).
Tuskegee and FAMU were both led by College Hall of Fame coaches, as the legendary Cleveland “Cleve” Abbott was one of Black College Football’s earliest coaching greats, leading the Golden Tigers to 203 wins from 1923 to 1954, while FAMU’s Jake Gaither fashioned a sizzling .841 winning percentage (203-36-4) during a 25-year span from 1945 to 1969.
While the first official varsity game between the two was played in 1908, the two schools played several games in the late 1800s and early 1900s with results not recorded. Still, the Rattlers hold a 27-15-2 advantage in the series since the 1908 encounter.
The rivalry between the two was an off-and-on affair as their conference schedule in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) since the 1940s had the pair periodically appearing then rotating off their schedules, as the league expanded.
COMMENTS ON THE 2016 MATCHUP
“This year, an old foe will return after a 20-year absence from competing against us. We look forward to facing the Golden Tigers of Tuskegee University in Mobile, Ala. on Sept. 17.” said Milton Overton, FAMU’s Athletic Director.
“We listened to our constituents, including alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends of FAMU. This game will provide an opportunity for Rattler and Golden Tiger fans to enjoy the action and the spirit on and off the field with the addition of the Battle of the Bands.”
Tuskegee University Athletic Director, Curtis Campbell said the tigers are excited about the opportunity to compete against Florida A&M University in the 5th Quarter Classic.
“The history between TU and FAMU goes back many years, and has left its mark on HBCU football as they are two of the winningest programs,” Campbell said. “This is an opportunity for our alumni and new generation of Tuskegee Golden Tiger football fans to be involved in such a historic game,” he added.
THE ORIGIN OF THE CLASSIC
The Mobile Sports Authority began discussions to bring a Classic-style football game back to Mobile in early 2014.
Knowing that Mobile, in all its rich history, would be a perfect backdrop for this long-standing historical competition, the MSA and promoter Robert Buck, are proud to be renewing this rivalry in an all-out “Classic-style” experience on a neutral playing field for both teams.
“I am proud to announce the return of an HBCU Classic to Mobile, Alabama. It has been a pleasure to establish the 5th Quarter Classic for the Gulf Coast community. Florida A&M University and Tuskegee University are elite institutions with outstanding athletic programs, excellent marching bands, and awesome fans,” Buck said. “The Mobile Sports Authority and I are working together to make the entire weekend an eventful experience for fans and 5thQuarterClassic.com is the best source to learn future plans for the weekend,” he added.
Fans can purchase tickets through the FAMU Athletic site: www.FAMUAthletics.com.