Friday, July 6, 2007
The John Merritt Classic Committee is proud announce that the 1973 Tennessee State University football squad will be honored at the ninth annual John Merritt Classic in Nashville on September 1, 2007. The team finished the season a perfect 10-0, ranked #1 in the nation and was named the Black College National Champion, TSU's tenth such honor. The 2007 JMC will pit the Tennessee State University "Tigers" against the Alabama A&M University "Bulldogs" at LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00p. Seven of the 1973 "Big Blue" Tigers were drafted by the National Football League. Five other players were picked by NFL in the following year, including the number one overall pick Ed "Too Tall" Jones, by the Dallas Cowboys as well as first round selection (fourth overall) Waymond Bryant by the Chicago Bears. The John Merritt Classic, first played in 1999, honors the legendary TSU football coach who led the Tigers from 1963 - 1983. During those 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, the only football "Classic" 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. A JMC kickoff press luncheon is scheduled for Thursday, July 19th at 11:00a at Nashville's LP Field. Representatives from both schools and their football teams will be in attendance. A youth football clinic on the turf of LP Field is scheduled following the press luncheon.