From 2011 through 2019, Bethune-Cookman University owned FAMU in Camping World Stadium. A streak of nine straight games had some in the Rattler nation wondering if they would ever escape the curse of Florida Blue Florida Classic. It is one of the most dominant stretches of the rivalry that goes back to the 1920s. It’s never been approached, not even closely, by Bethune-Cookman University.
Legendary B-CU coach Alvin “Shine” Wyatt did what previously was the unthinkable of beating the Rattlers three consecutive years from 2002-2004. Coincidentally that stretch was the highest three-year attendance of the Florida Blue Florida Classic. The three consecutive years of 2002 (70,201), 2001 (*73,358) and 2002 (71,153) accounted for nearly a quarter million in attendance over that span. To say that the streak came at the height of the Florida Classic is a just statement. The only other time the Florida Classic drew 70,000 consecutively was during the Rattlers’ 1999-2001 win streak.
The B-CU streak began at the end of the 2010 season. FAMU head coach Joe Taylor defeated a previously unbeaten Wildcat team 38-27 in front of over 61,000 fans. It was a crushing defeat for first-year head coach Brian Jenkins who came to B-CU from Rutgers and had rejuvenated the program as the Wildcats had racked up control of all opponents on their schedule.
2010 was the turning point in the Florida Classic
Jenkins’ team was an offensive juggernaut, scoring 70 against Edward Waters, 69 against Morgan State and 67 against North Carolina A&T. The Wildcats would make the NCAA playoffs in 2010, following the Florida Blue Florida Classic. A visibly hurt Jenkins would apologize to the B-CU faithful for the loss and the end to hopes of a perfect regular season. “I’m not going to let this damper our season,” said B-CU coach Brian Jenkins. “I’m hurt and I apologize to the fans for not getting it done, but 10-1? I’m good. We have to turn around and get ready for the playoffs next week.”
FAMU’s Joe Taylor defeated the Wildcats by using his not-so-secret weapon in running back Philip Sylvester. Sylvester rushed for all but two of his 146 yards in the second half and scored three touchdowns as the Rattlers (8-3) erased a 27-14 halftime deficit with 17 third-quarter points. B-CU committed two fumbles that FAMU capitalized upon to seize momentum, with one sending quarterback Matt Johnson to the sideline for the rest of the game with an injury. Despite the loss to FAMU, B-CU would earn the Black College National Championship
At the 2011 MEAC Media Day press conference in Norfolk, VA, Jenkins showed his bitterness toward the 2010 loss and it would be his last of his career to FAMU. He was asked about the 2010 loss and he replied simply “They got lucky.”
He never spoke another word about it.
FAMU’s luck ran out in 2011
In 2011, the Wildcats came into the Florida Classic at 7-3, with losses to South Carolina State, North Carolina A&T and the University of Miami. It set up another showdown against the Rattlers in the Florida Classic. This time Jenkins and the Wildcats would prevail. With a 26-16 defeat of the Rattlers, no one knew that it would catapult a historic run.
From there, the Wildcats would roll against the Rattlers. In 2012, B-CU would defeat the Rattlers 21-16 for their second consecutive defeat of FAMU, earning the outright MEAC championship and another berth in the NCAA playoffs. Coastal Carolina, who was preparing to make the leap to the FBS division was their first-round opponent. It was a close contest at 24-14, with the Chanticleers advancing to the second round of the playoffs. The Wildcats were named Black College National Champions again at the end of the season.
2013 would be another Black College National Championship year for B-CU. In what might have been Jenkins’ banner year, the Wildcats were solid on offense, defense and special teams. Their only FCS loss was a 27-24 nailbiter in their home finale against the Norfolk State Spartans.
The Wildcats would rout the Rattlers 42-12 in one of it’s finest moments. It would also mark the second time in school history that B-CU had defeated the Rattlers for three consecutive years. But, Mother Mary’s school was not done.
It would go on to defeat FAMU for the next six years. ESPN announcer Jay Walker said “B-CU has something in the head of the Rattlers and they just can’t seem to shake it.” At times during the streak it looked like the Wildcats were about to lose the streak, but year-after-year it would find a way to turn away FAMU.
Terry Sims continues the streak started by Brian Jenkins
Terry Sims took over the program from Jenkins and he maintained B-CU’s dominance over FAMU in 2015. He would win five games in the streak, making himself just the third coach in B-CU history (Wyatt/Jenkins) to win three consecutive against FAMU. Sims would twice defeat FAMU’s Willie Simmons in the Florida Classic.
Simmons’ first year at the helm, B-CU would win handily over the Rattlers with a 33-19 victory. In 2019, B-CU was not favored in the game, but nonetheless, it capitalized off FAMU errors and take a 31-27 victory. That win would cap a historic streak of nine consecutive victories over arch-rival FAMU.
The Rattlers would finally break the streak in 2021 after covid-19 forced the cancellation of the season in 2020. In 2022 the game would be the last for Terry Sims, capping a 9-2 campaign of the Rattlers and as head coach Willie Simmons termed it, “2021 was not the end of the nine-game streak, it was the start of a new streak for FAMU.”
Additionally, when the Rattlers and Wildcats faced off after the pause in play, both schools had migrated from the MEAC to the SWAC. It was new territory for both institutions. One agreement that was made in their transition to the SWAC was the importance of maintaining the Florida Blue Florida Classic matchup. It was a seamless transition of conferences and accommodation of the game.
This year, the Florida Blue Florida Classic falls on Nov. 18, at Camping World Stadium. For info on this year’s event and to grab tickets, visit http://www.FloridaClassic.org