While recent rumors and innuendo ran rampant about Grambling State being replaced in the Bayou Classic, it’s no rumor that Grambling will likely be replaced in the 2015 State Fair Classic if all factors remain in place.
The State Fair Classic, played annually at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas during the State Fair of Texas, has featured Prairie View and Grambling since the early 1980’s. But a scheduling conflict puts Grambling’s chances of playing the Panthers in Dallas in jeopardy.
“The problem with 2015 is that Grambling is not available.” said Al Wash, CEO of ALW Entertainment, the firm responsible for promoting the event. “We would love to have Grambling to play, but Grambling is from my understanding… supposed to be in Jackson, Miss. on that date, the first week of October.”
Throughout the years the State Fair Classic has been played on alternating dates between the last Saturday in September and the first Saturday in October. The game was played on the first Saturday in October the past three years, but the 2014 matchup is scheduled to be played Sept. 27 – the last Saturday in September.
Wash said he was told by officials of the State Fair of Texas that starting 2015 the State Fair Classic would be played on the first Saturday in October “from here on out,” with the intent to establish another football game – the Heart of Dallas Kickoff Classic – to be played during the State Fair of Texas preceding the annual Texas-Oklahoma football game.
The 2015 State Fair Classic is scheduled for Oct. 3. According to a copy of the SWAC’s 2015 conference football schedule obtained by TSPN Sports, Prairie View is scheduled to play at Grambling on Sept. 26 (the last Saturday in September). Prairie View has an open date for Oct. 3, but Grambling is scheduled to play at Jackson State that same day.
Grambling and Jackson State share open dates for Sept. 12, but there are no expectations that JSU officials will help accommodate Grambling, due in large part to a GSU player boycott last season that resulted in Jackson State having to cancel its homecoming football game.
Langston University is Grambling’s likely replacement for the 2015 game. Langston played Wiley College in the first State Fair Classic in 1925.
“They were the ones that started the [State Fair] classic game,” Wash said. “So I thought if I had to bring somebody back in on the 90th year anniversary [try] Langston.”
Negotiations with the Oklahoma based institution are underway. Wash said he has spoken with Langston athletic director Mike Garrett and is waiting to hear back from him on an offer that was submitted last week.
Wash is optimistic things will be straightened out for the 2016 contest with Grambling and Prairie View being the participants. According to Wash, letters from both schools were sent to the SWAC office requesting that future conference schedules have the two teams playing on the first Saturday in October.
Update: The 2015 State Fair Classic football game will feature Grambling and Prairie View on Sept. 26 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
If gram is smart they would never benefit pv and Dallas by bringing this game back to Dallas, just like the bayou classic. Without GSU it would never work
North Texans & State Fair regulars fondly anticipate the annual Cotton Bowl State Fair Classic football game. Although this game began in 1925 and featured Fred “Pop” Long’s Wiley College Wildcats vs. Langston University, the Grambling State Tigers and Prairie View A & M Panthers have been the primary combatants since 1985. But circumstances threaten Grambling’s participation this year.
The Southwest Airlines State Fair Classic is one of about 50 football “Classics” between historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). Some noted Classics are the Bayou Classic played in New Orleans’ Superdome, the Florida Classic played in Orlando’s Citrus Bowl, and the Atlanta Classic in the Georgia Dome. Noted participants have included Jerry Rice from Mississippi Valley University and the San Francisco 49ers, Too Tall Jones from Tennessee State University and the Dallas Cowboys, and Coach Eddie Robinson from Grambling.
Traditionally, the State Fair Classic is played during the State Fair of Texas on the weekend prior to the Red River Rivalry between the Texas Longhorns & the Oklahoma Sooners. Although in the past, the Grambling/Prairie/ View contest was broadcast locally via radio, the game has never had broad media exposure like the nationally televised Texas/OU game.
According to Atty. Christopher Clark, a lawyer who helped architect a regional broadcast television network serving viewers of southern culture, football games involving HBCUs aren’t usually televised because the games are in competition with major conference football powers. ESPN has a contract with all athletic conferences, including HBCU conferences, but there’s not enough available airtime. Clark says that lately there’s been a trend towards regional deals with broadcast organizations, where schools like Grambling and Langston University may contract their games out to local and regional broadcasters that might be interested in carrying their games to markets like D/FW and Oklahoma City with large minority populations. The only thing left to do after securing media contracts, according to Atty. Clark, is to obtain sponsors for the games.
If Grambling’s not available for this year’s Southwest Airline’s State Fair Classic, Prairie View will likely play the Langston University Lions from Langston Oklahoma according to the promoter. That would make this year’s Cotton Bowl games the 1st back-to-back Texas/Oklahoma football games played at the State Fair.