College football to kickoff with Red Tails Classic, ESPN announces

Cramton Bowl in Montgomery
Cramton Bowl in Montgomery(WSFA)
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 11:41 AM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The opening weekend lineup for college football will feature a new event highlighting historically Black colleges and universities, ESPN confirmed.

According to ESPN Events, the new event will be called the Red Tails Classic and seeks to honor of the Tuskegee Airmen who fought in World War II. Tuskegee University and Fort Valley State University will play in the inaugural game at the Cramton Bowl on Sunday, Sept. 5, at 6 p.m. on ESPNU.

ESPN Events says it remains dedicated to celebrating the tradition, legacy and values of historically Black colleges and universities.

“We are extremely pleased to highlight Tuskegee University in an annual kickoff event in Montgomery for the next three years,” said Pete Derzis, ESPN senior vice president, college sports programming and ESPN Events. “The history of this outstanding HBCU institution is accented with the important role the Tuskegee Airmen played in World War II and serves as a great source of pride that we hope to highlight within this nationally televised event.”

Fort Valley State and Tuskegee are both members of the NCAA Division II Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). The SIAC did not sponsor football during the 2020-21 academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This will be the first SIAC football game in 660 calendar days. The last official game was played on Nov. 16, 2019, when Miles defeated Albany State 21-6 in the 2019 SIAC championship game.

The game will be one of two games played at Cramton Bowl to open the college football season. The inaugural Montgomery Classic will be played Wednesday, Sept. 1, featuring Jacksonville State and UAB.

Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed and County Commission Chairman Elton Dean also share an understanding in the importance of the Red Tails Classic to the local community.

“Montgomery is proud to bring these unique sports experiences to Cramton Bowl.,” Reed said. “The Red Tails Classic and Montgomery Kickoff will be enjoyed by fans, families and local businesses alike, and these events will diversify our growing tourism sector.”

“It is no surprise that once again Montgomery County has been chosen to host not one but two nationally televised college football games this fall,” Dean shared. “We are pleased and honored to welcome the inaugural Red Tails Classic and the Montgomery Kickoff.”

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