It was December 1972 when the Grambling State Tigers faced off against North Carolina Central University in the Pelican Bowl. The Pelican Bowl was a bowl game intended to match the overall champions or top-seeded co-champions from the new Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) and the long-established Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) to determine the black college football national championship in the United States between 1972–75. Fast forward forty years and these two teams are set to play against each other again at the 2016 Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl on Saturday, December 17th at 12PM. Grambling State University Head Coach Broderick Fobbs fittingly called this match-up “two titans clashing”. At the press conference for the bowl, North Carolina Central University Head Coach Jerry Mack spoke about the success of the football players on his team on and off the field. This marks the second of the Celebration Bowl. Last year there were 35,528 attendees with over 14.8 million TV viewers. After first year’s match up between Alcorn State and North Carolina A&T, both schools saw 90% increases in enrollment and increases in fundraising. CMSgt Darin Thomas, a driving force for the Air Force Reserve’s involvement, mentions the impact is has on the players as well. Thomas recalls talking to some of the athletes in last year’s bowl. He mentions that the Celebration Bowl was probably one of, if not the “biggest thing that has happened to them. To be on a national stage like the ABC network… and all the eyes are upon them.”
Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl will air on ABC on Saturday, December 17th at 12PM. For more information about this game visit thecelebrationbowl.com.