The Bayou Classic is back, and we can feel it in the air. Full of vibrant traditions, the Bayou Classic is the best-known rivalry in historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) football, in which Baton Rouge’s very own Southern University competes.
For more than 130 years, Southern University has been a rich part of Baton Rouge. In 1881, with just 12 enrollees and the goal to broaden educational opportunities for Black students, Southern University A&M opened its doors in New Orleans before relocating to its flagship’s current Scotlandville location in 1890.
As enrollment steadily increased enrollment and educational opportunities expanded—including four-year degrees and a law school—the SU Jaguars were also leading the charge on the field.
Within the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC), SU formed a rivalry with North Louisiana HBCU Grambling State University in 1932 when SU defeated the GSU Tigers 20-0 on Tiger soil. SU went on to win 12 of the next 13 match-ups. Then in 1974, the same year the SU system expanded into New Orleans and Shreveport, a longstanding tradition began – the Bayou Classic.
Many games since the Classic’s inception have been nail-biters, with the series wins currently standing neck and neck. But as the No. 1 ranked HBCU match-up in the nation, the Bayou Classic is more than just a game between the Jaguars and Tigers. With both GSU and SU are known for their dedication and school pride, it’s a celebration of community and represents the schools’ academic achievements and traditions.
Click the link below to watch some highlights of previous Bayou Classic games:
Nearly 50 years since the birth of the Bayou Classic, the vibrant history of the game is stronger than ever. Traditionally held in New Orleans (a neutral site for the teams), the Bayou Classic is now a nationally-televised event, complete with a famous battle of the bands pitting Southern’s Human Jukebox Band against Grambling’s World Famed Tiger Marching Band. Additionally, a majority of the profits from ticket sales are redirected toward scholarship funds for students at each university.
To Southern, Grambling and our communities, the Bayou Classic is a historic event engrained in Louisiana’s culture and a symbol of pride for the Jaguars and residents of Baton Rouge alike.