Fred Jones

By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — The Southern Heritage Classic, held annually in Memphis between Tennessee State and Jackson State University, has long been one of the prime events of the HBCU football season, but the last two years it hasn’t been held due to extraordinary events. The 2018 SHC was cancelled due to heavy thunderstorms, and last year the COVID-19 pandemic prevented it from being played.

That makes this year’s 32nd annual edition even more welcome. Plus the 2021 game promises to be perhaps the most special yet, as both Tennessee State and Jackson State Universities have made headlines by hiring retired NFL greats as their head coaches.

Jackson State hired NFL Hall-of-Famer Deion Sanders to run their program earlier last year, and TSU has followed suit with the recent announcement that Eddie George would be taking over as head coach. Tickets went on sale May 21 for the Sept. 11 contest at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium at 6 p.m. The SHC is sure to be among the marquee events of the early college football season, and the presence of Sanders and George adds luster to an already special event.

The event’s founder Fred Jones says this new coaching matchup brings new attention to the Classic.

“Coach Eddie George and Coach Deion Sanders leading two HBCU football teams is a wonderful boost for the universities and HBCUs everywhere, but it’s also great for the Classic,” Jones said last week.

“After COVID-19 caused us to cancel last year, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to return in 2021. It’s an unexpected but welcome surprise and we are going to make sure everything is epic,” Jones said, referring to NFL greats Sanders and George as coaches.

“I look forward to safely seeing familiar faces and new ones too. This is going to be the hottest ticket in town!”

SHC will be adhering to the safety recommendations of the Shelby County Health Department and the City of Memphis regarding COVID-19. The game also had some gala events, among them Tiger Lane tailgating, the Orange Mound parade and the Classic Gala. The SHC  reportedly attracts 75,000 attendees.

Tickets can be purchased online at or charged by phone at 1-800-745-3000. For tickets and more information, visit