Monday, December 12, 2016

Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl teams set for a throw-back matchup

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Georgia -- Now that all the dust has settled, the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl has the two top teams from the Southwestern Athletic Conference and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference set to battle for the crown of historically black college and university national champion.

The Grambling State University Tigers, led by Head Coach Broderick Fobbs, are set to take on the North Carolina Central University Eagles, led by Head Coach Jerry Mack.

This marks the second year for the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, which showcases the heritage, legacy, pageantry and tradition of HBCUs. The game will be televised live on ABC to open the bowl season. The postseason college football bowl game will kick off at noon ET on Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

This year’s matchup of Grambling and North Carolina Central is a case of history repeating itself in a sense as the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl is a reincarnation of the original SWAC vs. MEAC championship game that went by the name of the Pelican Bowl back in 1972, which only lasted three years. The Heritage Bowl brought back the series in the 1990s. The current game has the financial backing and support of ESPN.

Back when the Pelican Bowl was first envisioned, times were much different in the college football scene and the American landscape. Many of the social injustices that students at HBCUs were fighting against, were being resolved. Ironically these positive changes had a negative impact on HBCU athletic programs. The Southeastern Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference had begun integrating their football teams, and the HBCU teams were competing for recruits with these larger programs.

From this environment it was determined that a holiday bowl game to determine the HBCU champion would bring some attention to these institutions.


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