Monday, November 8, 2010

Bayou Classic: The Grambling-Southern Football Rivalry

by:  Thomas Aiello
publisher:  LSU Press

The annual clash in New Orleans between the Grambling State University Tigers and the Southern University Jaguars represents the fiercest and most anticipated in-state football rivalry in Louisiana. The most significant national game to feature historically black colleges and universities is more than a contest; the Bayou Classic is a lavish event, featuring celebrities, a fan festival, and a halftime “Battle of the Bands” that offers an intensity equal to that of the gridiron. In Bayou Classic, Thomas Aiello chronicles the contest that became the Bayou Classic, providing not only a history of the game but also an exploration of the two schools’ broader significance to Louisiana, to sports, and to the black community.

When the Southern University Bushmen football team traveled to Monroe, Louisiana, to play the Tigers of Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute for the first time on Armistice Day, 1932, few realized they were witnessing the birth of a phenomenon. Aiello recounts Southern’s early dominance over the smaller, two-year institution; Southern’s acceptance into the Southwestern Athletic Conference; Grambling’s hiring of the legendary Eddie Robinson, who would lead the Tigers to 408 wins between 1941 and 1997; Grambling’s first victory over Southern; and years of alternating home and away games. In 1974, the rivalry found a neutral site in New Orleans—first at Tulane Stadium and then the Superdome—and became the “Bayou Classic.” An NBC television contract introduced the Bayou Classic to a nationwide audience and completed the transformation of the game into a major event. The Bayou Classic remains the only nationally broadcast game between two historically black schools. Aiello supplements his colorful narrative with period photographs and informative appendices providing game results, statistics, and all-star teams from every year the schools have played.

“To appreciate the rivalry,” Eddie Robinson once noted, “you have to realize Grambling and Southern fans are close friends, as well as relatives.” Bayou Classic offers a splendid history for fans, friends, and those who want to know more about this special game.

I live in Louisiana and I love some football.  I've always wanted to go to the Bayou Classic.  It looks like so much fun. 

This book is amazing.  Football fans will find it interesting.  People interested in the history of Louisiana will love it.  Southern and Grambling fans will have to have it.  It does not only deal with football.  It does deal with a lot of racial issues and history and economic issues.  This isn't a straight up football only book.

I read over a review copy that I got from Netgalley, but I'm going to have to hunt down a finished copy because it was chock full of pictures that my copy didn't have.  According to the notations, they must be amazing pictures. 

This is another one of those books that would make a great Christmas present!  Or the Bayou Classic will be held on November 27th this year.  Go get this book today and have a better appreciation of the event when it happens.

1 comment:

danielle.royster said...

The year 2011 will definitely be Southern's year. I have full faith that my favorite college football team will bring the win home. Due to extenuating circumstances, I was unable to make it to the 2010 Bayou Classic but I will be in full effect in 2011. I still watched the game even though I had to work, using the DISH Remote Access app by DISH Network. I work and subscribe to the service and I couldn't have been any happier when I saw blue and gold marching across the field I was a proud Southernite. Let's go Jaguars, let's go!