History

HISTORY & TRADITION OF THE FLORIDA CLASSIC

The Florida Classic is more than just a football game and more than an in-state rivalry. It is now the largest football game between two historically Black Colleges in America, surpassing the Bayou Classic between Grambling and Southern in New Orleans as the top attended game in NCAA Division I-AA as well as the nation’s largest football game between two Historically Black College/University (HBCU) schools. Since its inception in 1978, the game has now seen over 1.5 million spectators attend the game (1,560,893).

 

The Beginning

The series began in 1925, with Florida A&M winning 25-0. B-CU’s (then B-CC) first win came a year later, 12-0 in 1926.

Despite FAMU’s early dominance in the series overall (at one point, the Rattlers won 19 straight), the two schools drew ever-increasing crowds until they had to abandon their home stadiums for larger venues.

Sites like Daytona International Speedway and Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee were the sites of some of those “home” games before the two schools agreed on a permanent site — Tampa — in 1978.

 

The Series Begins

In that first “Florida Classic” game in 1978, Florida A&M turned a 17-0 halftime deficit into a scintillating come-from-behind 27-17 win en route to the inaugural NCAA Division 1-AA title.

The series between the two schools went through a two-year hiatus in 1983 and 1984 when they could not agree on a playing site. Public pressure from alumni, fans and state officials brought them back to the negotiating table and the series was resumed in 1985.

The renewal of the rivalry was as good as it gets, as Bethune-Cookman won a wild shootout, 31-27 in 1985.

In 1997, the two schools moved the Florida Classic to Orlando. That year’s affair was a rousing success as 56,351 fans swarmed into Camping World Stadium, over 25,000 fans more than the previous year in Tampa.

 

Breaking Records

Overall attendance for game has now surpassed the 1.5 million mark. However, the move down I-4 to Orlando, with its plethora of tourist attractions and central location for virtually every fan in the Sunshine State, has been the catalyst for turning an already intense rivalry into the hottest ticket in Division I-AA and Black College Football.

The record 1997 crowd was quickly eclipsed in 1998, when 66,245 packed the stadium for the game which determined the 1998 MEAC Championship and postseason invitations. In 1999, the Classic drew 70,125 fans to Orlando, at the time the sixth-largest football event ever held in Camping World Stadium. But even that attendance was overshadowed by the 2000 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title game, which drew 70,719, for a 31-28 thriller won by the Rattlers. The 2003 game stands as the largest crowd ever in the series – 73,358.

Since 1997, a total of 875,089 fans have watched the Florida Classic, an average of 67,315 per year. By comparison, the total attendance for the 17 years prior to Orlando was 685,804, an average of only 40,341.

Florida A&M holds a 20-10 edge in the meetings since the instate rivalry moved from a home-and-home scenario to an annual neutral site spectacular. Overall, the Rattlers lead the series, 48-15-1. Bethune-Cookman has made the series more competitive since 1973, winning 12 of its 15 series victories during that span, including a 58-52 overtime win in 2004, which was the first-ever three-game winning streak for the ‘Cats. Since the game has come to Orlando, FAMU has won nine of 13 games against B-CU, though the Wildcats have been victorious in four of the last eight.

 

National Debut

In 2005, the game made its debut on ESPNU and was televised nationally. The 24-hour college sports network broadcasted the game live as part of a multi-year contract with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and a commitment to broadcasting HBCU games. The 2009 game was televised by ESPN Classic.

With its colorful backdrop of football, bands and loyal fans, a centrally-located venue, nationally-regarded programs in both Tallahassee and Daytona Beach, the future of the Classic is ripe with promise.

 

YEAR-BY-YEAR-RESULTS

 

YEAR RESULTS ATTENDANCE LOCATION
2016 B-CU 39, FAMU 19 45,372 Orlando
2015 B-CU 35, FAMU 14 45,728 Orlando
2014 B-CU 18, FAMU 17 (OT) 41,126 Orlando
2013 B-CU 29, FAMU 10 45,321 Orlando
2012 B-CU 21, FAMU 16 32,317 Orlando
2011 B-CU 26, FAMU 16 60,218 Orlando
2010 FAMU 38, B-CU 27 61,712 Orlando
2009 FAMU 42, B-CU 6 59,418 Orlando
2008 FAMU 58, B-CU 35 60,712 Orlando
2007 B-CU 34, FAMU 7 65,367 Orlando
2006 FAMU 35, B-CC 21 71,216 Orlando
2005 FAMU 26, B-CC 23 (OT) 70,112 Orlando
2004 B-CC 58, FAMU 52 (OT) 71,153 Orlando
2003 B-CC 39, FAMU 35 73,358 Orlando
2002 B-CC 37, FAMU 10 70,201 Orlando
2001 FAMU 31, B-CC 21 70,112 Orlando
2000 FAMU 31, B-CC 28 70,719 Orlando
1999 FAMU 63, B-CC 14 70,125 Orlando
1998 FAMU 50, B-CC 14 66,245 Orlando
1997 FAMU 52, B-CC 35 56,351 Orlando
1996 FAMU 41, B-CC 17 31,208 Tampa
1995 FAMU 43, B-CC 0 37,006 Tampa
1994 B-CC 27, FAMU 24 36,813 Tampa
1993 FAMU 27, B-CC 22 31,264 Tampa
1992 B-CC 35, FAMU 21 40,714 Tampa
1991 FAMU 46, B-CC 28 40,259 Tampa
1990 FAMU 42, B-CC 20 42,776 Tampa
1989 FAMU 30, B-CC 7 43,703 Tampa
1988 B-CC 25, FAMU 0 50,259 Tampa
1987 FAMU 21, B-CC 10 41,521 Tampa
1986 FAMU 16, B-CC 6 38,204 Tampa
1985 B-CC 31, FAMU 27 41,358 Tampa
1982 FAMU 29, B-CC 14 39,160 Tampa
1981 FAMU 20, B-CC 0 45,964 Tampa
1980 B-CC 16, FAMU 14 43,281 Tampa
1979 B-CC 25, FAMU 20 40,253 Tampa
1978 FAMU 14, B-CC 7 42,061 Tampa