FAMU honors championship football team

Hundreds of FAMU football fans and the Marching 100 showed up at Bragg Stadium last week to honor their football team.
Photo by St. Clair Murraine

Special to the Outlook

The Florida A&M University football team was honored last Thursday night during a Celebration of Champions ceremony at Bragg Memorial Stadium.

The Rattlers opened the 2019 campaign with a loss to then- 17th-ranked UCF in Orlando. Despite the early setback, FAMU reeled off nine straight victories, including wins over Southern, South Carolina State and North Carolina A&T State.

The 34-31 overtime win over the 10th-ranked Aggies elevated Florida A&M into the FCS Top 25 polls, where the Rattlers headed into the final week of the regular season as the 13th-ranked team in the country.

However, the Rattlers’ nine-game win streak was snapped in the Florida Blue Florida Classic by Bethune-Cookman.

Prior to Thursday’s celebration, head coach Willie Simmons staked his claim that the Rattlers are the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Champions and HBCU Black College Football National Champions. He used the Twitter platform to make his claim to the title.

“What I am most proud of is that these guys have constantly overcome adversity,” Simmons said. “Every situation they’ve been thrown, they just continued to fight. They just fight and strike and strike and strike again and they just don’t quit. That is the sign of a championship group and that’s why we are the 2019 Black College Football National Champions.”

Meanwhile, North Carolina A&T State and South Carolina State both finished MEAC play with two losses and were chosen co-champions by the conference. The Rattlers were ineligible to compete in post-season play and as a result couldn’t win the MEAC title.

The Aggies will represent the MEAC in the Celebration Bowl by virtue of the head-to-head win over South Carolina State.

Alcorn State sits at 8-3, with losses to Southern Miss, McNeese and Grambling State. The loss to Grambling State stings a bit considering the Braves will face the very team that defeated Grambling State – Southern – on Saturday.

North Carolina A&T State has already locked up a spot in the Celebration Bowl. However, the Aggies, much like Alcorn State, sit at 8-3, with losses to Duke, FAMU and Morgan State. Duke finished the season at 5-7, while FAMU was 9-2. Morgan State ended the 2019 season at 3-9. The loss to Morgan State stings a bit because the Bears entered that game at 1-8.

Southern has perhaps the best resume of the three teams, with losses to McNeese, Alcorn State, Florida A&M and a one-loss Memphis team, who will play in the American Conference Championship game. The Jaguars rallied from a 21-3 deficit to win the Bayou Classic, setting up a rematch with Alcorn State.

Alcorn State (9-3, 6-1) took a 39-34 win over Southern last Saturday to win the berth against North Carolina A&T State meet in the Celebration Bowl.

FAMU finished the regular season at 9-2 and stacked up against some of the best of the best in the state of Florida.