For Alabama State head coach Eddie Robinson Jr., familiarity with the Magic City Classic runs deep.
Some three decades ago, Robinson was in a helmet and pads as a linebacker competing in the annual rivalry matchup for Alabama State against Alabama A&M.
In the 1990s, the game was a non-conference affair with the Hornets representing the SWAC and Bulldogs carrying the SIAC.
But the game then, as it does now, still is as important as ever for the first-year head coach.
“A lot of times this game was the game that would decide who was going to win the (SWAC) East, and so it was a really big game,” said Robinson. “Hopefully, we can get back to that. I think it’s at that level now. Whatever team wins this game would definitely be in a position to still try to make a move on Jackson State should they falter at the top. So, I think there’s a lot riding on it for both teams besides just being the Magic City Classic.
Alabama State (4-3, 2-2 SWAC) sits behind not only Jackson State but Florida A&M and Alabama State.
The Bulldogs, which have won the last four meetings since 2017, are only one game behind JSU in a tie for second place in the division (3-4 overall, 3-1 SWAC) with the Rattlers.
“It’s the biggest game of the year for Bulldogs nation,” Alabama A&M coach Connell Maynor said. “It’s the one game they (fans) talk about from Day 1.” And rightfully so because it’s the classic. It’s the classic of all classics.”
The 81st annual Magic City Classic will kickoff at 2:30 p.m. in Birmingham at Legion Field.