Blue–Gray Football Classic

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Blue–Gray Football Classic (defunct)
Stadium Movie Gallery Stadium
Location Troy, Alabama
Previous stadiums Cramton Bowl
Previous locations Montgomery, Alabama
Operated 1939–2001, 2003

The Blue–Gray Football Classic was an annual American college football all-star game held in Alabama usually on Christmas Day. It was begun in 1939 and held annually through 2001 at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama under the auspices of the Montgomery Lions Club. The game was not contested in 2002 and was subsequently revived in 2003 at Movie Gallery Stadium in Troy, Alabama. However, the game was discontinued because it lacked a major sponsor after that year.

The format, unsurprisingly given the Classic's name, pitted players who attended college in the states of the former Confederacy, the "Grays," who wore white jerseys, against players who attended school in the northern half of the country, the "Blues," who wore blue jerseys, and also sometimes including players from western teams. Both teams wore gray pants. Only seniors played in this game, because it was their first venture into professional football, as they were paid for their participation.

The game had an interesting and somewhat checkered history. It was almost always the first major college all-star game of the year. For this reason, it was difficult to get some of the truly big-name collegiate stars, because many of them were preparing at the same time for bowl games with their regular teams. Also, many potential players preferred to spend Christmas at home.

In recent years, therefore, most of the players had been players from teams with losing records and from smaller schools which do not play NCAA Division I football. The Classic gave these players an opportunity to be noticed by NFL scouts and others who may not have had the opportunity to observe them previously. Most such players now attend the NFL Combine for evaluation.

Given its setting, it wasn't surprising that this game was slow to desegregate. At one point, NBC, which televised the game for most of its run, dropped it from the schedule when the Lions Club refused to integrate it. Since then, the game had not only been desegregated, but in the process showcased many African American stars from smaller, lesser-known schools (including many historically black colleges and universities). In fact, Jerry Rice played in the 1984 game and was named the Most Valuable Player.

The Classic also made many concessions to make it more television-friendly, such as shortening the first quarter to 12 minutes on at least one occasion to make it fit more easily into a doubleheader package, and changing the rules so that after any score a team down by a double-digit margin would receive the kickoff, even if they in fact were the one which had just scored, presumably to keep the game close and prevent the loss of viewership which often occurs in grossly-uneven contests.

In later years, the game had always been played on Christmas Day, which may have tended to limit the live attendance, but which ensured that it was on television at a time when more viewers were available for it.

The game was not played in 2002 after longtime sponsor Kelly Springfield (a subsidiary of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company) decided to discontinue its sponsorship. The Lions Club was unable to find a new sponsor in time. However, it is not likely the game would have been played in any event that year due to the poor condition of Cramton Bowl. The stadium, built in 1923, had not been well maintained over the years, and by this time it was literally crumbling. The Lions Club was instrumental in reviving the game at Troy University's Movie Gallery Stadium, 50 miles south of Montgomery. It was generally thought that the Lions Club and others would have liked to return the game to Montgomery, but opted not to do so because it was unable to find a suitable replacement venue in the Montgomery area.

Game results[edit]

64 Blue–Gray Football Classics were played. Gray won 33 games, Blue won 29 games, and two games tied. All were played in Montgomery, Alabama, except the 2003 game, played in Troy, Alabama.[1]

# Date Winner Score
1 January 1, 1939 Blue 7–0
2 December 30, 1939 Gray 33–20
3 December 28, 1940 Blue 14–12
4 December 27, 1941 Gray 16–0
5 December 26, 1942 Gray 24–0
6 December 30, 1944 Gray 24–7
7 December 29, 1945 Blue 26–0
8 December 28, 1946 Gray 20–13
9 December 27, 1947 Gray 33–6
10 December 25, 1948 Blue 19–13
11 December 31, 1949 Gray 27–13
12 December 30, 1950 Gray 31–6
13 December 29, 1951 Gray 20–14
14 December 27, 1952 Gray 28–7
15 December 26, 1953 Gray 40–20
16 December 25, 1954 Blue 14–7
17 December 31, 1955 Gray 20–19
18 December 29, 1956 Blue 14–0
19 December 28, 1957 Gray 21–20
20 December 27, 1958 Blue 16–0
21 December 26, 1959 Blue 20–8
22 December 31, 1960 Blue 35–7
# Date Winner Score
23 December 30, 1961 Gray 9–7
24 December 29, 1962 Blue 10–6
25 December 28, 1963 Gray 21–14
26 December 26, 1964 Blue 10–6
27 December 25, 1965 Gray 23–19
28 December 24, 1966 Blue 14–9
29 December 30, 1967 Blue 22–16
30 December 28, 1968 Gray 28–7
31 December 27, 1969 Tie 6–6
32 December 28, 1970 Gray 9–0
33 December 28, 1971 Gray 27–15
34 December 27, 1972 Gray 20–14
35 December 18, 1973 Blue 20–14
36 December 17, 1974 Blue 29–24
37 December 19, 1975 Blue 14–13
38 December 24, 1976 Gray 31–10
39 December 30, 1977 Blue 20–16
40 December 29, 1978 Gray 28–24
41 December 25, 1979 Blue 22–13
42 December 25, 1980 Blue 24–23
43 December 25, 1981 Blue 21–9
44 December 25, 1982 Gray 20–10
# Date Winner Score
45 December 25, 1983 Gray 17–13
46 December 25, 1984 Gray 33–6
47 December 25, 1985 Blue 27–20
48 December 25, 1986 Blue 31–7
49 December 25, 1987 Gray 12–10
50 December 25, 1988 Blue 22–21
51 December 25, 1989 Gray 28–10
52 December 25, 1990 Blue 17–14
53 December 25, 1991 Gray 20–12
54 December 25, 1992 Gray 27–17
55 December 25, 1993 Gray 17–10
56 December 25, 1994 Blue 38–27
57 December 25, 1995 Blue 26–7
58 December 25, 1996 Blue 44–34
59 December 25, 1997 Gray 31–24
60 December 25, 1998 Gray 31–24
61 December 25, 1999 Tie 22–22
62 December 25, 2000 Gray 40–37
63 December 25, 2001 Blue 28–10
64 December 25, 2003 Blue 31–24

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Blue–Gray All-Star Classic Games". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 

See also[edit]