Southern Board Member Wants Grambling Out of Bayou Classic

Southern defeated Grambling 40-17 in the 40th annual Bayou Classic. (NOLA photo)

The Bayou Classic between Southern and Grambling State has been the premier black college football game for decades. But if at least one Southern board member thinks it’s time for change. Just days after Southern breezed past Grambling 40-17 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Southern Board of Supervisor member Tony Clayton sent an email to other board members requesting consideration of kicking Grambling out of the game.

“For the last several years, Southern has been doing 90 percent of the work and producing 70 to 80 percent of the fans, and we’re having to split the proceeds,” Clayton said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Clayton said he would like to see Southern study whether it would make financial sense to bring in schools such as Florida A&M University, Jackson State University or South Carolina State University, which he said has fans who are more than willing to travel to faraway games.

“I understand the historic nature of playing Grambling … but having to split the proceeds after having the lion share of the fan base in the Superdome consistently coming from SU, just doesn’t make good economic sense,” Clayton wrote in his email. “The Bayou Classic is a numbers game, and our dear colleagues from north Louisiana just aren’t traveling down I-10 to watch the G-Men.”

// Needless to say, the mere suggestion of Grambling’s involvement in the 40 year-old classic has ruffled many feathers around Louisiana and in the HBCU world. According to reports, this isn’t the first time Clayton has stirred up controversy among SU alums. 

Clayton’s logic is flawed at best. Two of the teams he mentioned, FAMU and SC State, play in the MEAC. The classic falls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. That’s not a problem in the SWAC, where the conference does not send its champion to the NCAA playoffs. The MEAC, however, does send its champion. Despite the fact that the MEAC hasn’t won a playoff game since 1999, I don’t see any MEAC squad opting out to play in the Bayou Classic.

More importantly, the Bayou Classic without Grambling is NOT the Bayou Classic. The game is huge because it’s a matchup of the state’s two biggest HBCUs, in the city that everyone loves. Put anyone else in that game, even a SWAC rival like Jackson State, and its just not the same. Grambling is in a down spell, but these things go in cycles. Most folks realize this, so don’t look for GSU and SU to split anytime soon.

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