NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Grambling State University and Southern University will face off during the 44th Bayou Classic this Saturday.
The mayor, along with both coaches, spoke about the importance of the tradition for the city.
"It's more than a game, it literally epitomizes the spirit of HBCUs. It brings about the kind of pageantry that marks the HBCU black American classic," Southern University President Dr. Ray L. Belton said.
The city welcomed both Grambling State and Southern Universities to the Superdome, starting a week-long of celebration before the big game.
"The unique thing about the Bayou Classic is I've been the little kid that have cheered on the University to victory, but then I've also been the player on the field and now I get to be the coach on the sidelines," Grambling State Head Coach Broderick Fobbs said.
"I really think that we're going to have a scheme this year that our guys are going to be able to communicate to each other because they're older and really be able to play a lot better," Southern University Head Coach Dawson Odums said.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the Bayou Classic is bigger than the game itself.
"Yea it's about football, but it's about academics. It's about economic development, it's about inclusion, it's about making sure that the city of New Orleans is the place where everybody is welcome all of the time," Landrieu said.
He added that this is a pivotal year.
"This year is a special year for us because we're going to celebrate our tricentennial in the city of New Orleans," Landrieu said.
The Classic also brings a significant amount of money to the city.
"It's a multi-faceted celebration of Grambling, Southern and their alumni, making Thanksgiving weekend in New Orleans a family tradition, bringing in more than 250,000 visitors, and 50 million of economic impact," President and CEO of Downtown Development District Kurt Wiegle said.
Despite the rivalry, there was an overall message of unity.
"Although this event culminates with an on-field rivalry between our two universities, this is a partnership between the two most well-known and revered HBCUs in this country," Grambling State University President Richard Gallot said.