While the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic® at RFK Stadium will settle bragging rights on the football field on Sept. 17, it is safe to say the “Battle for the Real HU” is more than just a football game. The Battle for the Real HU extends throughout the athletic department and across the entire campus at both Howard University and Hampton University.
“It’s a friendly [rivalry] to a certain extent,” said Tamia Dockery, a sophomore on the Howard volleyball team, which swept a pair of matches against Hampton, dropping just one game. “If you’re on social media, everybody is talking about each other, who is the real HU.”
The culmination of the rivalry – at least during the fall semester – will be in the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic®.
“It will be the second-biggest event of the fall, next to homecoming,” said Howard assistant men’s basketball coach Keith Coutreyer, who was previously an assistant at Hampton and is quite familiar with the Battle for the Real HU. “The Classic is probably the most well-attended event we’ll have.”
When Hampton and Howard meet, there are plenty of people watching. Dockery remembered last year’s volleyball matches against Hampton drawing spirited crowds.
(Photo Credit: peachstatecollegesports.com)
In men’s basketball where Hampton has won the past 14 games in the series, the teams drew a near-capacity crowd of 2,700 for their game at Burr Gymnasium (tied for Howard’s largest home crowd of the season) and 6,943 at Hampton Convocation Center (the second-highest attendance for the Hampton home game).
“The rivalry is always there, the battle to see who is the real HU,” said Howard senior James Daniel III, a Hampton native who led the nation in scoring last season, averaging 27.1 points per game. “Of course, Howard has always been the real HU since the beginning. I can guarantee Hampton does not want to see Howard in basketball this year.”
Of course, one might surmise that given their lengthy winning streak in the series, the Pirates cannot wait to get on the court with Howard. But before that happens – Feb. 11 at Hampton is the teams’ only meeting this season – the universities must battle it out at RFK Stadium.
“Walking around the RFK Stadium parking lots prior to last season’s AT&T Nation’s Football Classic® reminded me of my Clemson days, when I was an assistant,” said Howard men’s basketball coach Kevin Nickelberry, who previously coached at Hampton. “There were two sides divided, the Howard side the Hampton side. They’re divided by grills. They’re divided by cars. They’re divided by logos. And for all those who go into that stadium and all of that energy! It’s a battle of the bands, it’s a battle of cheerleaders, it’s a battle for everything. You gotta love it. It’s a rivalry for the ages.”
The AT&T Nation's Football Classic® is a black college football game held annually at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Now in its sixth year, the 2016 game features Howard University against Hampton University and will be played on Saturday, September 17th.