As TheDerisoReport.com first officially confirmed on Friday night, ESPN is set to issue a Monday morning news release revealing that Grambling and South Carolina State will participate in the season-opening MEAC-SWAC Challenge.
Here’s a sneak peek at the contents of that announcement, to be sent to media outlets at 9 a.m. tomorrow — with new comments from Grambling coach Rod Broadway, Southwestern Athletic Conference commissioner Duer Sharp, South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough, MEAC commissioner Dennis Thomas and ESPN:
For Immediate Release, February 23, 2009
South Carolina State and Grambling to Compete in Fifth Annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge Presented by Disney from Florida Citrus Bowl Sept. 6 on ESPN2
Defending Conference Champs to Meet for the First Time Since 1994
The fifth annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney, an ESPN Regional Television (ERT) owned-and-operated event, will pit MEAC defending champion South Carolina State University against 2008 SWAC title winner Grambling State University on Sunday, Sept. 6. The yearly event, which features teams from two prominent HBCU (Historically Black College/University) leagues, will return to Orlando’s Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. The two teams will go head-to-head for the first time since 1994 and the matchup will be aired on ESPN2 at a time to be announced on a later date.
“Having the best team from each conference represented in this year’s MEAC/SWAC Challenge is the icing on the cake for the fifth anniversary of the event,” said Nikki Godfrey, MEAC/SWAC Challenge Executive Director. “It will truly be a championship atmosphere for the schools, their fans and the Orlando community to enjoy.”
South Carolina State and Grambling have met 14 times previously. The Grambling Tigers lead the series 10-4. However, the Bulldogs won the last meeting 31-27 in the1994 Heritage Bowl. Both teams have also participated in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge before this year’s scheduled appearance. South Carolina State played in the inaugural game in 2005 versus Alabama State and Grambling in 2006 against Hampton.
Eugene Campbell, Vice President of Community Relations & Minority Business Development, Walt Disney World Co., remarked: “We consider it an honor to join ESPN once again in saluting these outstanding student-athletes in a game that delivers a bowl experience while upholding the tradition and pageantry of Black College Football. We look forward to celebrating this momentous battle on the gridiron with South Carolina State and Grambling fans alike.”
South Carolina State is coming off its most productive season in 14 years. The Bulldogs, under the tutelage of head coach Oliver “Buddy” Pough, compiled a 10-3 overall mark — the school’s most wins since the 1994 campaign – and went undefeated at 8-0 to capture the Conference Championship and a berth in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs.
“It should be an exciting game matching two teams that had outstanding years and won their league and were ranked 1-2 among HBCUs in the polls,” said Coach Pough. “This sets it up to be a great game. Certainly, we are excited to be back in the event and we are glad to be going to Florida.”
Head Coach Rod Broadway’s second season at Grambling State was a memorable one as the Tigers overcame a 1-2 start and reeled off nine straight wins en route to earning its 22nd SWAC Football Championship and 14th Black College National Championship in school history.
“We’re looking forward to competing against South Carolina State in the MEAC-SWAC Challenge,” said Grambling State head coach Rod Broadway. “The opportunity to open the year on national television, in a venue as storied as the Citrus Bowl, will be a memory our players and staff will cherish.”
Each year, the game is played at a neutral site within the footprint of one of the conferences. The inaugural MEAC/SWAC Challenge in 2005 showcased the MEAC’s South Carolina State vs. Alabama State of the SWAC, with South Carolina State prevailing, 27-14. In 2006, the contest went into overtime with the MEAC’s Hampton University defeating the SWAC’s Grambling State, 27-26. The SWAC earned its first MEAC/SWAC Challenge trophy in 2007 as Southern defeated Florida A&M, 33-27.
Last year, the event moved from Birmingham’s Legion Field to Orlando’s Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, where the MEAC reclaimed the MEAC/SWAC Challenge crown, as Hampton defeated Jackson State 17-13. The MEAC leads the series 3-1. Teams for future games are determined on an annual basis.
“This year’s MEAC-SWAC Challenge should be another great contest featuring two outstanding football programs,” said MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas. “This game is even more intriguing for fans because both defending conference champions are involved. I would like to commend ESPN for continuing to take the lead in providing diverse programming.”
SWAC Commissioner Duer Sharp stated: “This year’s game is arguably the most exciting in the five-year history of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge. Both Grambling State and South Carolina State had championship seasons in 2008 and this year’s matchup is an outstanding kickoff for the 2009 campaign.”
For more information about the MEAC-SWAC Challenge and for access to its Facebook page, please visit the event’s newly re-designed website at http://www.meacswacchallenge.com.
ESPN REGIONAL TELEVISION
The nation’s largest syndicator of collegiate sports programming, ESPN Regional Television (ERT) annually produces more than 1,000 telecasts of sporting events. Programming includes football, basketball, NCAA events, golf and NHRA events accounting for more than 2,200 live and/or original hours of programming. In addition to event ownership, ERT is the production headquarters for ESPNU, the 24-hour college sports network; syndication rights-holder and producer of national, regional and local shows for college conferences (e.g. – BIG EAST, Big 12, Mid-American, Sun Belt, WAC).
ESPN Regional Television markets and/or owns several sporting events, including collegiate football events: the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, Texas); New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque); Papajohns.com Bowl (Birmingham, Ala.); Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl; Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu); magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl; and The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards; collegiate basketball events: the 76 Classic (Anaheim, Calif.); Charleston Classic (S.C.); Diamond Head Classic (Honolulu); Old Spice Classic (Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla.); O’Reilly Auto Parts Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan); O’Reilly Auto Parts All-College Classic (Oklahoma City); SEC/BIG EAST Invitational; and the ESPNU BracketBusters; as well as the ESPN National Golf Challenge presented by Callaway. For more information, visit http://www.espnplus.com.
WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORT
Walt Disney World Resort is a contiguous 40-square-mile, world-class entertainment and recreation center featuring four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom); two water adventure parks (Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon); 32 resort hotels (22 owned and operated by Walt Disney World, including six Disney Vacation Club properties); Disney’s Fort Wilderness campground; two full-service spas; Disney’s Wedding Pavilion; Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex; and Downtown Disney, an entertainment-shopping-dining complex encompassing the Marketplace, Pleasure Island and West Side. Walt Disney World Resort is also included in vacation packages of Disney Cruise Line. Located at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 20 miles southwest of Orlando, Walt Disney World Resort opened Oct. 1, 1971.