Sept. 2, 2008
Washington, D.C. - It is just a football game. But it's more than just any football game.
And it may not be a game that garners a ton of attention from fans nationwide. Sure, you'll see the score come across the Ticker, but you won't really give it a second thought.
But the coaches say it is a matchup that makes too much sense.
When the football teams for Georgetown University and Howard University take the field at William T. Greene Stadium on Saturday, September 6, it will mark the first meeting ever between the schools.
"I think it's terrific," Georgetown Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. "It makes too much sense. We're right across town. A gallon of gas is awful high and with budget-awareness these days, it's a great natural rival for us. Even though it's a road game, in my mind it's a home game. We can sleep in our beds and wake up and come play."
The schools have each played football since the 19th Century. The Hoyas first played in 1887; the Bison played their first game in 1893.
Georgetown and Howard are the only two college football teams in the Nation's Capital that play at the Football Championship Subdivision Level.
The main entrance for the Georgetown campus is located at 37th and O Streets. The main entrance for the Howard campus is located at Howard Place and 5th Street.
A scant three-plus miles separate the campuses.
Yet, in more than 100 years of football for each school, they have never played.
That will change in less than seven days, when the Hoyas and Bison play the inaugural D.C. Challenge Cup. It is the first game of a four-game series that is hoped to build into a game for the crown of college football in the District.
"This game is really important to us and to Howard as well," Kelly said. "It gains some exposure for both our programs. It will help with recruiting in our area. We play a great brand of football and Howard does as well and I think the awareness we can build from this will be great."
Besides being the first-ever meeting between the two schools, there is a social significance to the game.
This meeting will also mark the first time that a Georgetown football team has ever played a school that is classified as one of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Georgetown opened its doors in 1789 and is among the most academically-renown universities in the country. Its school colors - Blue and Grey - are a direct tie to the colors of the armies in the Civil War.
Howard was founded in 1867, shortly after the end of the Civil War, as a theological seminary for the education of African-American clergymen. Within a few weeks, the concept expanded to include a provision for establishing a University.
There are several other interesting notes regarding the matchup:
▪ This is the first intra-city football game for two Division I teams since Georgetown met George Washington on Nov. 25, 1950 at Griffith Stadium. ▪ It is the first such local game for Georgetown since 1993 when GU played its final game with Division III Catholic University, and Howard's first intra-city game since it played the former Division II program at the University of the District of Columbia in 1989. ▪ Howard boasts a rich football history, including three black college football titles and two MEAC championships. Nearly 50 former Howard players since 1960 have appeared on NFL teams. ▪ This is Georgetown's first football game against an Historically Black College and University (HBCU); it is only Howard's second game ever against a Patriot League team, having played Bucknell in 1983. ▪ Georgetown and Howard are among the oldest college football programs in the Mid-Atlantic region. Georgetown founded its first team in 1874 and began varsity play in 1887, while Howard began play in 1893.
What the parties involved hope this game to be more than anything is a chance for a rebirth of college football within the District of Columbia. At one time, Washington, D.C. had three major college football programs - Georgetown, George Washington University and Catholic. Each of those programs dropped football between 1951 and 1966, but of those schools only one, Georgetown, revived its program to the Division I level.
By Mike "Mex" Carey Sports Information Director Special thanks to John Reagan for his assistance with this piece.