BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Marion Rouse is an alumnus of Daytona Beach-based Bethune-Cookman University’s “Marching Wildcats” band. B-CU’s archrival in almost everything is Tallahassee-based Florida A&M University.
Performances of the FAMU Marching ‘100’ band were suspended in the aftermath of the hazing-related homicide of FAMU drum major Robert Champion. Though he doesn’t question the suspension itself, Rouse questions its impact on FAMU alumni as the 2012 football season kicks off.
“I have heard that people won’t be attending the Florida Classic because of the band’s suspension,” he told the Florida Courier. “I have also heard that people will skip FAMU’s homecoming.
“It’s sad to me. The football team still represents the school, its pride and its traditions. The Classic has been going on since 1978 and the (FAMU-BCU football) series since 1925. They should go and still root for their football team who is still out there giving it their all.”
The Florida Classic football battle between FAMU and B-CU has become the largest game in Black college football. Since 2000, an average of more than 63,000 fans have attended the annual game at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. The game and its affiliated weekend activities throw off an estimated $30 million in economic impact to the Orlando area.
“People skipping the game may have been the initial reaction, but they must know that it is important to support our university,” acknowledged Tommy Mitchell, Sr., president of the FAMU National Alumni Association. “It’s about the school and not the band. Our commitment is to the university as much as we love our band.”
Mitchell says that the alumni association and university have been working to ensure fans attend all home games and the Florida Classic. He encourages everyone to support the school.
“We have been reaching out to people to get them to the games. It really has been a university-wide effort. We had to find a way to make up for the band not being there. We have really reached out to the youth,” Mitchell asserted.
FAMU faced a dilemma heading into this football season. The school is celebrating its 125th anniversary playing football with the theme “Our Team, Our Time, Respect the Game.”
“From the beginning of this situation, people have been submitting ideas. People must realize that even without the Marching 100, we still have to support our football team and school,” added Mitchell.
The school and its athletic department solved the problem by coming up with an alternative. FAMU will provide live Super Bowl-style entertainment during halftime at its home games this season.
“We are excited about this promising team that we have this season. They have put in the time over the summer and we just want to add excitement and enhance the halftime experience,” said FAMU Director of Athletics Derek Horne.
Rappers, high school bands
Rapper FUTURE will perform at halftime for FAMU’s first home game September 15 against Hampton University.
“This is a very exciting time for our football team and athletics program. We have put together and energetic and vibrant halftime production to give fans a spectacular experience. Having FUTURE perform at the first home game sets the tone of what fans can expect throughout the season,” Horne exclaimed.
FUTURE will also host a meet-and-greet for winners of a promotional contest designed to get people excited about the football season.
On Tuesday, the school announced that Tallahassee Rickards and Tallahassee FAMU Developmental Research’s high school bands would perform at halftime during the second home game of the season on October 13 against Savannah State.
DJ’s battle during games
During other home games this year, FAMU will add another dimension with an “Old School DJ vs. New School DJ” battle.
FAMU alumnus DJ Demp will represent the new school, while DJ Neaux of Atlanta and DJ Will ‘Power” Packer of Rainforest Films will represent the old school. Packer is also a FAMU alumnus who has produced motion pictures, including “Stomp the Yard,” “Obsessed,” and “Think Like A Man.”
Longtime Tallahassee radio personality Joe Bullard will continue to be the public address announcer for FAMU’s home games this season.