Since the game’s inception in 1989, the Bank of America Football Atlanta Classic has been a part of the Florida A&M football team’s great history. Florida A & M University will now face a new opponent in the event.
The organizers of the classic, the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, announced Wednesday that Southern University would take the place of Tennessee State University.
The change hopes to restore the prestige of the Atlanta Classic. The committee believes the presitge of the teams, and the bands, could help revive the reputation.
President Dr. James Ammons was present at the press conference on Wednesday and reassured the sponsors that the schools chosen would generate excitement through the town and among the fans.
“I don’t think there is a match-up that will bring more excitement to this city than the Rattlers and the Jaguars,” Ammons said.
William Pate, president of the Atlanta convention and Visitor’s bureau, agreed with Ammons.
“The addition of Southern University continues the rich tradition of highlighting Historically Black Colleges and Universities at the Bank of America Football Classic,” Pate said.
Every year the game brings in more than 60,000 fans to downtown Atlanta and generates $26 million in economic impact according to Pate.
Players are psyched about the change in schedule and the renewal of the rivalry.
“I’m excited to face them in the game,” middle linebacker Alvis Graham said. “We didn‘t get to play them last year, so this will be one of my most anticipated games for my last season.”
Coach Joe Taylor shared his excitement as well, citing the respect of each university as his primary reasoning.
“You’re talking about well-respected universities, well-respected coaches and well-respected bands,” he said.
Not only do the teams have a rivalry, but coaches Joe Taylor and Stump Mitchell have one as well.
John Grant, CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta, made it clear that off the field success played a vital role in the decision of the teams.
“The new lineup with FAMU and Southern University will provide a fresh rivalry with schools known for excellence on and off the field,” Grant said.