Coke Helps FAMU

The Florida Coca-Cola Bottling Company is partnering with the Florida A&M athletic department to introduce a new bottle design. The limited-time offer commemorates the 25th anniversary of FAMU’s NCAA Division 1-AA national championship.

“This was my brain child to commemorate the 1978 championship,” said Earl Kitchings, the director of marketing and development. “I had seen other bottles done to commemorate certain events and since they’re [Coca-Cola] our beverage partner, I thought it would be a great marketing opportunity.”

The Coca-Cola classic bottles will be available in the Tallahassee area as early as Wednesday afternoon. The FAMU bookstore and various vendors in the community will also receive cases.

Publix, Winn Dixie, Albertsons and Wal-Mart are among the retailers who will have the bottles stocked on their shelves. Florida Coca-Cola has produced and packaged 1,500 cases for this event.

There will not be any more of the specially-designed bottles produced once this supply is depleted. There are 4 6-packs to a case, which means there will be 36,000 bottles available for the public to obtain.

“1500 [cases] is what will be distributed because it’s meant to be a limited edition, a collector’s item,” said Michele Holcomb, a representative of the Florida Coca-Cola Bottling Co. “This is a way to recognize a group that has had a major accomplishment.”

FAMU has continued to pave the way in the football history books. Twenty-five years ago the Rattlers became the first historically black college or university to make the move to Division I-AA. It won the National Championship that year.

Twenty-five years later the Rattlers became the first historically black college or university to make the move to Division I-A. FAMU is also the only HBCU to have made it to the semifinal round of the NCAA Championship tournament.

“Our tradition in football history is very large, and when we have our chances, we take them,” said Kitchings. “Out situation is pretty much, a lot more impactful than any other black college.”

Fans can also get their commemorative bottles before Saturday’s home game against Delaware State. Six-packs will be sold outside the stadium and fans can purchase them and then take them back to their cars because bottles are prohibited in the stadium.

The conference takes place at Galimore-Powell Fieldhouse and that is where the first bottle will be opened. Players and coaches from the 1978 championship team will be available for pictures and questions at today’s 11:00 press conference.

“It’s a great feeling, no question about it, to have that era recognized,” said then-coach Rudy Hubbard. “It’s great to be a part of it and I’m feeling good about having those guys honored.”

Hubbard coached for 12 years from 1974 through 1985.

Dominique Drake can be reached at