Alcorn State University and North Carolina A&T State University will play in the fourth edition of the unofficial HBCU college football national championship next Saturday. But will the second showdown between the Brave and the Aggies jumpstart attendance and national interest in the unofficial kickoff for the college football bowl game schedule?
HBCU Gameday breaks down the statistics on last year’s in-stadium attendance numbers.
The inaugural Celebration Bowl, as well as CBII, was played in the Georgia Dome. Approximately 35,000 fans filled the dome, which remains as the best-attended Celebration Bowl. The dome is no more these days as it was destroyed following the completion of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
A&T and Grambling played CBIII in the new stadium in 2017 in front of the smallest crowd in Celebration Bowl history. The challenge will be on the two schools to bring attendance back up as well as draw a larger TV audience than last year’s game.
In a matchup which won’t have as much player star power as the inaugural meeting between the two teams, it is the coached who may be the biggest of the game’s compelling storylines.
Alcorn State head football coach Fred McNair leads a Braves team popularized nearly 25 years ago by his brother Steve which led to a solid career in the NFL, and NCA&T coach Sam Washington, who became an Internet sensation following an upset win over East Carolina University earlier this year.
Lol @FOOTBALL_NCAT coach Washington! @NCATAGGIES #AggiePride https://t.co/zvNTA7IzNQ
The Aggies bring seven members of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s all-conference first-team to the Celebration Bowl, and the Braves bring 10 players to the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s first-team, including Offensive Player of the Year Noah Johnson and Newcomer of the Year De’Shawn Waller.
High-powered offenses and players and coaches with name appeal for MEAC and SWAC football fans seemingly provide the fuel for a game that should have widespread interest, particularly against successful turnout for both teams’ last games. More than 20,000 fans came for the Alcorn-hosted SWAC Championship Game, and better than 11,000 for the Aggies’regular-seasonn finale against North Carolina Central University.