Hall of Fame
Tigers in the HBCU Classics


Courtesy: Tennessee State Sports Information  
Release: 09/13/2010
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John Merritt Classic - September 4, 2010 - Nashville, Tenn. (LP Field)

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The John Merritt Classic, first played in 1999, honors John A. Merritt, the legendary TSU football coach who led the Tigers from 1963 - 1983. During twenty-one seasons, "Big John" won four undisputed national championships among historically black colleges ranked by the Sheridan Poll, compiled a lifetime record of 172-33-1, and built a powerful program that produced NFL stars like Richard Dent (Chicago Bears), "Jefferson Street" Joe Gilliam (Pittsburgh Steelers), Ed "Too Tall" Jones (Dallas Cowboys), Claude Humphrey (Philadelphia Eagles) and many others.

The JMC, one of only three football Classics solely hosted by a single NCAA FCS institution, is intended to allow Tennessee State to raise funds for scholarships and other related needs for TSU students. The Classic also provides an opportunity for community outreach with its weekend of activities.

Southern Heritage Classic presented by FedEx - September 11, 2010 - Memphis, Tenn. (Liberty Bowl)

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Still, celebrating the Classic that began in 1990 is much more. The greatness of the Classic rests on how it connects kindred spirits - young and old - in celebration of the beauty of cultural diversity and the richness of the City's heritage.

The success of the Southern Heritage Classic, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2009, has resulted from countless hours, days, months and years of behind the scenes effort to make it a first-class entertainment event, not just a football game between traditional rivals Jackson State and Tennessee State.

In fact, the game is the highlight of a weekend of activities that includes a coaches luncheon and a VIP Party; Blues, Gospel, Classic R&B and Classic Comedy concerts; the Ed "Too Tall" Jones Golf Classic; a Classic Parade featuring the Jackson State and Tennessee State marching bands; a fashion show and brunch; a tailgate party and the always popular battle of the bands with the top high school show bands and dance teams from the Mid-South competing.

Thousands come back annually to Memphis, Tennessee, USA, for the lively tailgate parties; to cheer on historically black college rival football teams; to tee off in the celebrity golf tournament; for a glimpse at women's fall fashions; and to experience music made in Memphis and other familiar rhythms. These are the tangibles.

Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic - September 25, 2010 - Atlanta, Ga. (Georgia Dome)

The Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic presented by 100 Black Men of Atlanta is one of the nation's largest Black college football games pitting long-term rivals Florida A&M University against Tennessee State University on the gridiron. The event is also 100 Black Men of Atlanta's largest fundraiser for its mentoring, academic support and scholarship program, Project Success.

But the Classic is far more than just a game between two fine Black colleges. Atlanta, the geographic midpoint between both schools, has become ground zero for one of the most intense and deepest college football rivalries in the nation, the Tennessee State Tigers versus the Florida A&M Rattlers, it's the Aristocrat of Bands versus the "Marching 100" - it's big blue versus orange and green. It's an HBCU and an Atlanta tradition!



Circle City Classic - October 2, 2010 - Indianapolis, Ind. (Lucas Oil Stadium)

The Circle City Classic is a joint collaboration between Indiana Black Expo Inc. and the Indiana Sports Corporation. The net proceeds from the Classic help fund scholarships and support youth initiatives for each organization. Since 1984, over 1 million dollars have been awarded to deserving Indiana natives who pursue higher education.

It was Rev. Charles Williams' vision not only to promote educational achievements, but also to create one of the most spectacular African American events in the country to showcase the economic spending power of African Americans. With assistance from the Lilly Endowment along with a host of volunteers, Indiana Black Expo and the Indiana Sports Corporation brought Rev. Charles William's vision to a reality.

On October 13, 1984, the Circle City Classic was born. Jerry Rice and the Mississippi State Delta Devils battled the Grambling State Tigers and legend Coach Eddie Robinson. Entering its third decade, the Classic has evolved from just a football game into a well recognized and well respected organization with year round programs designed to enhance the mental and physical development of our youth. Some of these programs include year round College Readiness Workshops, Challenge of Champions, Miss Circle City Classic Coronation, Classic Youth Football and Cheerleading Clinic, as well as the scholarship program. The Classic has surpassed the expectations of many through its 25 years.

The goal of the Classic is to honor the legacy of Rev. Charles Williams by continuing to provide opportunities for youth as well as supporting educational achievement and promoting cultural excellence in the community.


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