Oct. 6, 2005
Greensboro, N.C. - It seemed almost incomprehensible that two historically black universities located 25 miles apart are not on each other's schedule. Consider the problem solved. North Carolina A&T and Winston-Salem Sate will renew their football rivalry on Sept. 2, 2006 when the Rams travel to Aggie Stadium next season. A formal announcement was made Wednesday, October 5 at a press conference in the Bryan Fitness and Wellness' Multipurpose Room.
The teams have met 42 times over a span of 60 years, with the Aggies holding a 33-9 edge in the series. Six seasons have passed since the last time these teams met, when the Aggies took a 20-7 victory over the Rams en route to the MEAC Championship.
"We are very pleased to welcome the WSSU Rams to N.C. A&T today," said Aggie athletics director Dee Todd, an WSSU alum. "It is time we bring back a rival that has meant so much to this community. For many years, this game was a staple on our schedule, and with WSSU joining the MEAC, the teams will play again."
Before the series ended in 1999, the Aggies and the Rams played each other 23 straight times from 1977-99. The Aggies lead the all-time series 33-9.
The rivalry extends to the current coaching staffs of the football teams. WSSU head coach Kermit Blount played against N.C. A&T head coach George Small in the late 70's. Blount's teams beat the Aggies in 1977 and '78.
"It's going to be fun facing Kermit as a coach,'' said Small, who played defensive line when Blount was the quarterback at WSSU. "I know what it is like to face him as a player and that was hard enough. He was quick. So I'm looking forward to see what it's like to face him as a coach."
Other great players from both teams have participated in the rivalry. WSSU wide receiver Yancey Thigpen played in two Super Bowls, went to two Pro Bowls and helped the Rams to two wins over N.C. A&T. Pro Football Hall of Famer Elvin Bethea played in the series in the 60's and never lost to the Rams.
Winston-Salem State has already made its formal application to become the 12th school to join the MEAC and will be eligible for championships in 2010. The Rams played against MEAC members Howard and S.C. State in its 2005 football schedule.
"There is no more speculation,'' said WSSU Athletics Director Dr. Percy Caldwell. "We will be a Division I team, so the future of this rivalry looks promising."
The game is sure to have a positive impact on the Triad area. The average attendance of the game was 18,191 in the 1990's. At Aggie Stadium, the average attendance was 16,510 during that decade, while at Bowman Gray Stadium, the home of the Rams, the average attendance was 19,972.