B-CU and FAMU Face-off for a Weekend of Football, Family, and Fun

B-CU and FAMU Unite for a Weekend of Football, Family, and Fun

As part of a nearly century-long tradition, the city of Orlando buzzed over the weekend with the sights and sounds of Black college football during the 2023 Florida Classic, presented by Florida Blue. This iconic matchup between the Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) Wildcats and the Florida A&M University (FAMU) Rattlers stands as one of the oldest and most significant rivalries in Historically Black College and University (HBCU) culture.

Since their inaugural clash in 1925, these historically-Black Florida landmarks, along with their rich athletic traditions, have played a pivotal role in elevating the mission, vision, and value of the approximately 100 institutions designated as HBCUs by the federal government.

Heralded as more than just a game, the Florida Classic offered a multi-day experience that lived up to its reputation, even in the face of heavy rain. Thursday's Night of Distinction recognized individuals for their outstanding contributions to football, the Florida Classic Consortium, and both B-CU and FAMU.

B-CU and FAMU Unite for a Weekend of Football, Family, and Fun

Friday's Consortium Kick-off Luncheon was a resounding success, marked by spirited banter between the presidential and athletic leaders of both universities—a tradition that adds a touch of humor to the longstanding rivalry.

The Bethune-Cookman University Marching Wildcats and 14 Karat Gold Dancers stole the show at Friday night's Battle of the Bands, joining a dozen local high school programs in a showcase that annually celebrates the high-stepping drum majors, precision drumlines, and roaring brass sections synonymous with the HBCU band tradition.

Saturday brought a welcomed change in weather conditions for the more than 55,000 in-person spectators at Camping World Stadium, complemented by millions of viewers tuning in to witness the annual showdown between Daytona Beach’s Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats and Tallahassee’s Florida A&M University Rattlers.

B-CU and FAMU Unite for a Weekend of Football, Family, and Fun

The Wildcats, riding a two-game winning streak, faced off against the Rattlers, ranked seventh in the Football Championship Subdivision Coaches Poll, and on an eight-game winning streak. FAMU dominated the first half with a 17-0 lead, but Bethune-Cookman capitalized on two pass interference calls against the Rattlers, with quarterback Walter Simmons III scoring a seven-yard touchdown run.

Ultimately, the Wildcats fell short to their Rattler hosts with a final score of 24-7. Beyond the gridiron, B-CU alumnus and Coach Raymond Woodie Jr. and FAMU Coach Willie Simmons, along with the two towering HBCUs they represent, demonstrated that victory extends beyond the scoreboard—it lies in the building of men.