by Donal Ware
With so much trouble in the LBC it’s kinda hard being…
There is quite a bit of craziness here in North Carolina. North Carolina is a swing state that voted for Donald Trump. We are dealing with HB2 that has had ramifications on the state all across the country with hundreds of millions of dollars lost because of it. But we’ve got something you don’t have besides barbecue and sweet tea.
We’ve got Aggie-Eagle.
The North Carolina A&T/North Carolina Central football rivalry is one of the best in college football. And this weekend when the two teams meet for the outright MEAC championship, it may be the biggest game in the history of the rivalry.
Everyone talks about the “big three” here in what we call the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill/Cary). UNC is pretty good. Duke and State not so much.
Across the State, App State is pretty good. Wake Forest is solid. ECU and Charlotte not so much. In Division I football in North Carolina, A&T and NCCU have the best records at 9-1, 7-0 in the MEAC and 8-2, 7-0, respectively.
Saturday’s game in Durham at NCCU’s O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium will be the 88th meeting in this rivalry that dates back to 1924. While the Aggies lead the series 49-33-5 and have won 18 of the last 25 meetings, the Eagles have won six of the last 10, including the last two. The last two wins for the Eagles have enabled them to share the MEAC title the last two years. Had A&T won, they would have won the title outright.
There is some great high school football played in the state which is generally underrated when stacked up against other states that are regarded as crème de la crème in football like Florida and Texas for example.
Sixty-seven percent of the players on A&T’s roster are from NC. Fifty percent on NCCU’s roster.
Just as a little history lesson, both teams go back to the days of the CIAA. Both teams left the CIAA to join the MEAC, which originated in Durham in 1969. NCCU decided to rejoin the CIAA after the 1978 season.
In 1994, the Aggie-Eagle Classic began and was played at NC State’s Carter-Finley Stadium. The game would generally get 50,000 fans in attendance. As the years went on, A&T started to dominate the series and interest started to wane. After some financial disagreements with the City of Raleigh the last game of the Aggie-Eagle Classic was played in 2005 with the Eagles winning in dramatic fashion, 23-22.
The coach for NCCU then; Rod Broadway.
The rivalry took a hiatus in 2006 and came back in 2007 as NCCU made its transition to Division I and the MEAC.
Typically, the MEAC championship has not gone through North Carolina. For the third-straight year, it will.
So while it might not exactly be Duke/Carolina in basketball as far as HBCUs are considered, it’s becoming that way.
No matter who wins one thing is for sure; the MEAC’s representative in the national televised Celebration Bowl (and perhaps the FCS playoffs) will be from North Carolina.
North Carolina (A&T and Central) come on and raise up take your shirt off, twist it ’round yo’ head. Spin it like a helicopter.
This is the first in a series of pieces that will run on BOXTOROW, a North Carolina-based company. Pieces will include Podcasts, articles and commentary. Stay with us for our Aggie-Eagle series.