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Lambeau Field College Classic: What makes a “classic” anyway?

Lambeau Field is a storied football stadium with a tremendous amount of football history having been played on the turf commonly referred to as the Frozen Tundra. Home to the NFL’s Green Bay Packers since 1957, and it used to be the home to local high school programs. Just three times in the history of the stadium has Lambeau Field been used to host college football, but it will add one more to the list this 2016 season. Wisconsin and LSU are scheduled to open the 2016 season in Lambeau Field on September 3. As with most neutral site games that are manufactured on the fly, the game sought to add a corporate sponsorship and an official name. Yesterday it was announced Carmax has signed on as the sponsor for the game, which is being dubbed the Lambeau Field College Classic.

We now have one more college football game being dubbed a classic before it ever unfolds. Over the years we have had the Kickoff Classic, Pigskin Classic, Cowboys Classic (now, officially, the Advocare Classic), and the New York College Classic, to name a few. We now have one Classic that will, in all probability, be played just once.

So, what exactly is a classic anyway? Let’s start with a quick look at the dictionary definition of the word from Meriam-Webster.

  1. 1a :  serving as a standard of excellence :  of recognized value <classic literary works>b :  traditional, enduring <classic designs>c :  characterized by simple tailored lines in fashion year after year <a classic suit>

  2. 2:  of or relating to the ancient Greeks and Romans or their culture :  classical

  3. 3a :  historically memorable <a classic battle>b :  noted because of special literary or historical associations <Paris is the classic refuge of expatriates>

  4. 4a :  authentic, authoritativeb :  typical <a classic example of chicanery> <a classic error>

  5. 5capitalized :  of or relating to the period of highest development of Mesoamerican and especially Mayan culture about a.d. 300–900

I had always been miffed by the overabundance of the use of the word “classic” in a number of college football games and regular season college basketball tournaments and events, especially those that were just launched in a given year. I always felt the word classic should be reserved for events that had established themselves as a tradition in its sport over a period of time, but after reading the above definition of the word, I can sort of buy into the concept. The first definition offered says the word “classic” can be used to illustrate a standard of excellence.

Putting Wisconsin and LSU on the same field is certainly raising the bar for the level of competition. There is clearly a recognized value in the game between two power conference programs in one of football’s most historic venues. It also has a chance to be “historically memorable,” or “a classic battle,” as the alternate definition outlines.

So I guess I was wrong on this one, although I still cannot help but roll my eyes slightly whenever I see the word “Classic” slapped on a college sports event that has never been played before and may never be played again. If the Packers are interested in hosting more college football games at Lambeau and making this an annual event on the college football calendar, then I’m all for the name. For now, this will be a one-time deal, so let’s hope it is memorable enough to be remembered for years as a true classic.

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About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.
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