More than a Football Game: Women at the forefront of Grambling State University Band’s 2021 Bayou Classic Performance

Jalien Edwards, GSU Band photographer

Photos courtesy of Jalien Edwards, GSU Band photographer

 Two women making history are at the forefront of Grambling State University’s World-Famed Tiger Marching Band’s Bayou Classic performance this year. Dr. Nikole Roebuck, who made history in 2019 as the first female Band Director and Candace Hawthorne, who made history in August 2021 as the first female Drum Major in 70 years, are leading the band as they prepare for two shows this weekend at the Bayou Classic, which many refer to as the “HBCU Superbowl”.

The highly anticipated match-up between Louisiana rivalry schools Grambling State University and Southern University and A&M College at the Bayou Classic football game isn’t the only reason thousands of people will be traveling to the Caesars Superdome this weekend. Many people are looking forward to watching the Grambling State University World-Famed Tiger Marching Band take over the field.

This will be the band’s first Bayou Classic performance since 2019. The band will perform in the Caesars Superdome at the Battle of the Bands event on November 26 and during the football game at halftime on November 27.

Hawthorne and the band watch the football game with the GSU Orchesis dancers.

Living up to the Legacy

The World-Famed Tiger Marching Band has been preparing since June for its performance at the Bayou Classic. The 2020 Bayou Classic was held in Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana due to protocols in New Orleans amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

GSU Band Director Dr. Roebuck played clarinet in the band while she was a student at GSU. Roebuck performed at each Bayou Classic when she was a student. However, she said that this year’s Classic has a different level of pressure because this is the band’s first Bayou Classic performance since 2019.

“We’ve been preparing for the classic before the semester began, starting with band camp in the summer,” Roebuck said.” “The pandemic really affected us because we couldn’t perform for a year and a half. “There is a lot of pressure because many people are wondering how we are going to perform at the Classic.”

Roebuck looks into the field while the band takes a break from playing at the football game.

Candace Hawthorne, a senior at GSU, who is one of the three Drum Majors, said that the band has been practicing endlessly to prepare for the Bayou Classic performance.

“We practice every weekday and sometimes on the weekends for several hours,” Hawthorne said. “We practice in the cold, rain or shine because we want to perfect our performance. We are known as ‘World-Famed’ for a reason and we have to uphold our band’s legacy.”

Hawthorne teaches the band new formations at a late night practice.

The World-Famed Tiger Marching Band is known as ‘World-Famed’ because they have performed in cities across the World, at multiple NFL Super Bowls, at four United States Presidential Inaugurations and for celebrities like Beyonce.

Overcoming tragedy

Last month the band suffered the unexpected loss of one of its integral members, Jamarcea Washington. Washington, who was a senior at GSU, played the drums and joined the band in 2017.

Washington had the chance to meet and perform for Beyonce while filming GSU’s Adidas commercial.

This would have been Washington’s last Bayou Classic performance. Hawthorne said that the band will honor Washington during the Bayou Classic performance by wearing a red ribbon.

“It really hurt losing him,” Hawthorne said.” I remember we had just practiced with him and the next day he was gone. We are wearing red ribbons in honor of him because he was the heartbeat of the band, he played the bass drum. We’re going to be wearing the ribbons over our hearts because he is still within us.”

Grambling women leading the way

Roebuck said that becoming the first female Band Director was a surreal moment for her because the position is typically dominated by men. Roebuck said that in this position she hopes to pave the way for women to come.

“Because it was a male dominated position, I knew one day it would happen I just didn’t know when,” Roebuck said. “I worked hard and dreamed big. I still have to pinch myself and say ‘is this real?’ I encourage women to never give up on their dreams. Don’t ever let anyone discourage you because a position is typically dominated by a man. Women can do it too.”

Hawthorne said that she is “very excited” to lead the band as this will be her first Bayou Classic as Drum Major.

“I’ve performed in the Bayou Classic every year but I’m usually in the back,” she said. “This will be my first time out in the front leading the band so it is a lot of pressure. It’s such an exciting moment when stepping on the field and seeing thousands of people cheering for us in the stands and all of the lights flashing.”

Hawthorne conducts the band as they play at one of the football games.

To see The Grambling State University World-Famed Tiger Marching Band perform click here.

How to Watch the 2021 Bayou Classic:

The Bayou Classic airs Saturday, November 27th at 5 PM E.T. on NBCSN.

Author’s note: Jasmine Franklin is an award-winning journalist, Chicago-native, and senior studying Mass Communication at Grambling State University. Franklin made history in 2019, becoming the youngest Editor in Chief to serve The Gramblinite newspaper, as just a sophomore.  She is passionate about storytelling and aspires to become a news anchor. You can follow her on Instagram @Jazzxnicole

RELATED: 2021 Bayou Classic – Everything You Need to Know about the Matchup Between Grambling and Southern

Michigan, Penn State, Purdue headline NBC Sports, Peacock’s early Big Ten schedule


Big Ten Football is coming to NBC Sports and Peacock for the first time ever this upcoming season. This year’s coverage will feature Big Ten’s first weekly broadcast primetime games and nine Peacock-exclusive matchups. The NBC Sports Big Ten Football package will feature Big Ten Saturday Night on NBC and Peacock, marking the first time ever that the Big Ten will have a dedicated weekly primetime game on a national network. There will also be nine games available exclusively on Peacock.

Big Ten opening week schedule

NBC Sports will debut its Big Ten Football package with two of college football’s top programs — Penn State and Michigan — on Sept. 2.

  • Exclusively on Peacock, at Noon ET, the reigning Big Ten champion Michigan Wolverines will host East Carolina at “The Big House.”
  • On NBC and Peacock, at 7:30 p.m. ET, the reigning Rose Bowl champion Penn State Nittany Lions will host West Virginia at Beaver Stadium in the first meeting between the two teams since 1992.

Additional Big Ten Football games announced today

Saturday, Sept. 16th – Washington vs. Michigan State (5 p.m. on Peacock)

The Washington Huskies, who had the nation’s top passing offense in 2022 led by Heisman Trophy candidate Michael Penix Jr. visit the Michigan State Spartans, who finished 11-2 in 2021 and ranked among the country’s top 10 teams.

Saturday, Sept. 16th – Purdue vs. Syracuse (7:30 p.m., NBC and Peacock)

The Purdue Boilermakers, winners of the Big Ten West division last season, host the Syracuse Orange. These teams will face in a rematch of last season’s thriller, where the two combined for 42 points in the fourth quarter alone before the Orange squeaked out a three-point victory.

Saturday, Nov. 11th – Ohio State vs. Michigan State (7:30 p.m., NBC and Peacock)

The Ohio State Buckeyes, a College Football Playoff national semifinalist last season, host Michigan State.

Friday, Nov. 24th – Penn State vs. Michigan State (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC and Peacock)

Penn State visit Michigan State in a Black Friday primetime matchup at Ford Field in Detroit.

Notre Dame games on NBC

NBC Sports’ primetime schedule also includes two of college football’s most-anticipated matchups. Ohio State will play at Notre Dame Sept. 23 and USC, the top team in the Pac 12 last season, will play at Notre Dame on Oct. 14. Both games will be broadcast on NBC and Peacock.

RELATED: Notre Dame announces 2023 NBC kickoff times, led by Ohio State and USC in prime time

NBC Sports’ Big Ten Football and primetime games announced to date:

Sat. Sept. 2 Noon East Carolina at Michigan Peacock
Sat., Sept. 2 7:30 p.m. West Virginia at Penn State NBC, Peacock
Sat., Sept. 9 Noon Delaware at Penn State Peacock
Sat., Sept. 9 7:30 p.m. Charlotte at Maryland NBC, Peacock
Sat., Sept. 16 5:00 p.m. Washington at Michigan State Peacock
Sat., Sept. 16 7:30 p.m. Syracuse at Purdue NBC, Peacock
Sat., Sept. 23 7:30 p.m. Ohio State at Notre Dame NBC, Peacock
Sat., Oct. 14 7:30 p.m. USC at Notre Dame NBC, Peacock
Sat., Nov. 11 7:30 p.m. Michigan State at Ohio State NBC, Peacock
Fri., Nov. 24 7:30 p.m. Penn State at Michigan State (Ford Field) NBC, Peacock

The remaining NBC Sports’ Big Ten Football games will be announced during the season.

Wisconsin college football history: Big Ten and national titles, stadium, 2023 season outlook and more


Winners of the inaugural Big Ten title in 1896, the Wisconsin Badgers enter a new era in 2023 with Luke Fickell taking over as head coach. Fickell takes over a team which finished last season with a losing conference record for the first time since 2008 and enters this year with a new quarterback under center.

Beginning this fall, NBC and Peacock will be the exclusive home of Big Ten Saturday Night, a primetime football game each weekend. Peacock will also serve as the exclusive home for eight additional Big Ten football games each season. Keep reading for a primer on all things Wisconsin and all things Big Ten ahead of the 2023 season.

How long has Wisconsin been in the Big Ten?

Wisconsin is one of the original members of the Big Ten, playing in the conference’s inaugural season in 1896. The Badgers won each of the first two conference titles, finishing first in the Big Ten in both 1896 and 1897.

Has Wisconsin ever won the Big Ten championship?

Wisconsin has won 14 Big Ten championships, including the inaugural title in the 1896 season. Their most recent Big Ten championship came in the 2012 season, which capped off three-straight conference titles for the Badgers from 2010 to 2012.

RELATED: Wisconsin RB Allen discusses playing for Fickell

Has Wisconsin ever won the national championship?

No, Wisconsin has never won a national championship in football. In the 1962 season, Wisconsin finished second in both the AP and Coaches polls behind Southern Cal, who defeated Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl that season.

What is the name of Wisconsin’s stadium?

With a capacity of more than 80,000, Camp Randall Stadium serves as the home of the Wisconsin Badgers football team. The land was originally used for training Wisconsin troops during the Civil War and is named after Wisconsin’s first wartime governor, Alexander W. Randall. Camp Randall is home to one of college football’s greatest traditions, with the crowd erupting with the playing of the song “Jump Around” by House of Pain.

RELATED: Wisconsin spends spring practice adapting to new offense

Who is Wisconsin’s head coach?

After leading Cincinnati for the past six seasons, Luke Fickell is entering his first year as head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers. Fickell replaces Paul Chryst, who was fired last October and replaced by Jim Leonhard, who finished the year as interim head coach. Fickell went 57-18 over his six seasons in Cincinnati, including a trip to the 2021 College Football Playoff. He is no stranger to the Big Ten, playing at Ohio State in the 1990’s and spending 16 of his first 18 seasons in coaching on the Buckeyes’ staff, including one year as head coach (2011).

What is Wisconsin’s mascot?

Bucky Badger (full name Buckingham U. Badger) is the mascot for the Wisconsin Badgers. While the badger has been the university’s mascot since 1889, the first costumed Bucky did not make an appearance until 1949 and is known for wearing his signature red and white striped shirt.

RELATED: NCAA rules panel approves keeping clock running on 1st downs

What is Wisconsin’s 2023 season outlook?

The Luke Fickell era is beginning in Madison, with Fickell taking over a team that has won a bowl game in eight of the past nine seasons. Coming with Fickell is new offensive coordinator Phil Longo, who spent the past four years in the same position at North Carolina. Longo is known for having a pass-heavy offense with the Tar Heels and will look to bring that to a Wisconsin program known for a ground-and-pound, run-heavy attack. Fickell and Longo brought in three new quarterbacks from the transfer portal to replace former starter Graham Mertz, who transferred to Florida. Redshirt senior Tanner Mordecai, who played at both Oklahoma and SMU, looks set to take over as the starting QB in Madison this year.

How to Watch Big Ten Football on NBC and Peacock

In August 2022, NBCUniversal and the Big Ten Conference today announced a landmark 7-year agreement for NBC and Peacock to become the exclusive home of Big Ten Saturday Night football, beginning in fall of 2023. Peacock will also serve as the exclusive home for eight additional Big Ten Football games each season.

NBC Sports/Peacock’s new agreement with college sports’ top conference will also feature dozens of men’s and women’s basketball games (including multiple games each year in the Men’s and Women’s Big Ten Tournaments), Olympic sports, golf and more, providing hundreds of hours of Big Ten content across Peacock.

What devices can I watch Peacock on?

Peacock is currently available on the Roku platform; Amazon FireTV and Fire tablets; Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD; Google platforms and devices including Android™, Android TV™ devices, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices;  Microsoft’s Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X; Sony PlayStation4 and PlayStation 4 Pro; Samsung Smart TVs; VIZIO SmartCast™ TVs; LG Smart TVs; Comcast’s entertainment platforms including Xfinity X1, Xfinity Flex, and XClass TV; and Cox’s Contour and Contour Stream Player devices. To learn more about Peacock and how to sign up, visit