Florida A&M football fans have been sad to see such a disappointing finish to what started off as a promising season for the Rattlers. They will always have one thing to look forward to at the end of the season though, and that’s the “Florida Classic”.
According to Eventbrite, the world's largest event technology platform, three things that make a great sporting event are the team spirit, the halftime shows, and the game itself being played. Alumni, members of the Marching 100, and FAMU football players all agree that the classic has all those things going for it and more.
FAMU and Bethune-Cookman fans have one thing in common, whether their team is having a good season or not, both sides show enormous amounts of team spirit.
“Oh God, the atmosphere is competitive and high,” said Clifford Hill a FAMU alumna and football season ticket holder. “It’s almost like you got two sides of the family raised in the same house, but they on different teams. The atmosphere is more than just a football game.”
There is not a number that can measure the amount of spirit that’s at the classic, but if there were, it would be the amount of people attending the event. According to the classic’s official website, since the beginning of the event in 1978, the overall number of people in attendance at the game has surpassed 1.8 million people. That’s an average of 48,648 people in attendance per game.
In many people's’ eyes, the real spectacle of the classic is not the game itself, but the halftime shows in between the game. Hill, who has enjoyed the classic for several years, said he ranks the band performance first in terms of what he looks forward to the most, followed by the tailgating before and after the game, and then the game itself.
William Ricketts, a second-year business administration major and percussionist in the Marching 100, agrees with Hill, saying “It (the halftime show) is the most exciting part. At halftime no one gets out their seats. You get out your seat during the first quarter or the second quarter, before the game or in between the game – but if you want to see a show, do not get out of your seat at halftime.”
The halftime show is traditionally a battle of the bands between the FAMU and BCU bands. Ricketts said that since the performance is the “finale of the season” for both bands they usually give it everything they have. With both bands ranking in the top 10 of the latest ESPN/The Undefeated HBCU band rankings, ‘everything they have’ will likely be enough to put on a great show.
For six years in a row the Wildcats have beaten the Rattlers at the Florida Classic. FAMU has the better overall record in the series – 21 wins and 16 losses – but ever since the classic moved to Orlando both teams have 10 wins each in the series.
Last year’s game was not very close, as the Wildcats won 39-19, and the Wildcats also have a much better record (5-4) than the Rattlers have this season (2-7). That does not mean the game still won’t be exciting though, as no matter what record either team walks in with, the classic always gets the players to play their best.
“With this being a rivalry game and being the last game of the season, this is one of those games you go all out for,” said FAMU wide receiver Chad Hunter. “We know we can’t go to the playoffs so we don’t have anything to lose. Why not go all out and send a message for next year.”
Whether it’s the game, the band, or the general atmosphere, Rattlers everywhere are excited for the event every year, and this year’s classic does not look like it will disappoint.
This year’s Florida classic will take place on Nov. 18 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida.