Southern football keeps it fast and fun as camp begins _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- The Southern University band performs during halftime of the Bayou Classic.

The Bayou Classic has a new network and a new kickoff time.

The annual football regular season-ending game between Southern and Grambling will move to NBC Sports Network and will kick off at 4 p.m. instead of the traditional 1:30 p.m. under terms of a one-year contract announced Monday.

The 42nd Bayou Classic will be played Nov. 28 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The game had been televised on NBC since 1991.

The later start time allows more time for fans traveling on game day and for those taking part in ancillary events taking place before the game on Thanksgiving weekend. It also means the game will conclude in prime time.

“The later starting time is a better fit for the dynamic of the Bayou Classic,” Southern interim athletic director Roman Banks said. “I think Southern and Grambling negotiated a good deal to continue to showcase both universities. Now it’s up to our athletic department to have a team that’s ready to play.”

Last season’s game was one of the more memorable in the series. The Southwestern Athletic Conference West Division title was at stake, and the Jaguars held on to win 52-45 by stopping a quarterback sneak inside the 1-yard line on the game’s final play.

“The landscape of television sports is changing, and it is important to us that the Bayou Classic continue to be an integral part of that landscape,” said Dottie Belletto, president of Bayou Classic management firm New Orleans Convention Company Inc. “While our relationship with NBC Sports is longstanding, this new relationship opens up additional avenues to expand the breadth of Bayou Classic-related sports programming, both in the game broadcast and in advance promotions and marketing efforts.”