A new year, a new conference, and the revival of the Orange Blossom Classic.
Florida A&M University (FAMU) President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., VP/Director of Athletics Kortne Gosha and head coach Willie Simmons were present during Wednesday’s kickoff press conference, presented by Denny’s, held at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
“This marks our return to an area that has been a fertile ground for Florida A&M University. It’s been a major source for outstanding students and athletes coming to FAMU for many, many years,” said President Robinson. “I believe this classic represents a tremendous opportunity, not just for Miami Gardens and South Florida, but for both institutions.”
Jackson State University was represented by VP/Director of Athletics Ashley Robinson and head coach Deion Sanders.
Florida A&M saw the 2020 season cancelled due to the pandemic and elected not to play in its final season in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) this past spring. The Rattlers will officially begin Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) play on July 1.
“We couldn’t be any prouder to represent Florida A&M University in this game,” said Gosha. “We’re really excited about this opportunity to showcase the special talents that our young men have.”
Simmons, who begins his third season as Rattler head coach, is excited about having the opportunity to play in the Classic.
“This is an amazing day and longtime coming,” said Simmons. “When we first introduced the idea of reviving the Orange Blossom Classic, our hair stood up on the back of our necks. We all understand how important this game is, not only to the city of Miami Gardens, but to Florida A&M. I have a very strong feeling that the Black College National Champion may be decided from this game.”
The Orange Blossom Classic returns after a 43-year hiatus as the game will be played during Labor Day weekend – September 5, 2021. It will also mark the first SWAC game of the season for both teams.
FAMU has played in the Orange Blossom Classic 46 times and Jackson State will be making just its third appearance. The two teams are no stranger to each other. The Tigers hold a 10-7-2 record against the Rattlers.
Photos by Greg Reed and Premier Choice Group