For as long as I can remember I never saw any mention of college football being played at Oakland Coliseum. When I looked at a list of current NFL stadiums, the Oakland Coliseum (now known as O.co Coliseum) was the only current NFL stadium I recognized as potentially never hosting a college football game. However after a little research on the topic I can say college football has been played at every current NFL stadium.
I found of at least three intercollegiate football games, and one collegiate all-star game played at the Oakland Coliseum. Two of the games were a part of the Bay Area Football Classic, and the other game was called the Sickle Cell Anemia Football Classic. The three intercollegiate games pitted Bay Area teams versus historically black colleges. In 1970-71 the game raised money for various charities around the Bay Area. In 1972 the game was played to raise money for the Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation of Oakland.
Listed below are summaries of those games.
1970 Bay Area Football Classic – Cal State Hayward 20, Southern University 6
The Bay Area Football Classic kicked off on November 28th, 1970. A UPI news wire in the 11/17/1970 Ellensburg (WA) Daily reported it as the first ever college football game played at the Oakland Coliseum. Cal State Hayward (now known as Cal State East Bay) upset Southern University 20-6. Future Philadelphia Eagles WR Harold Carmichael scored the only Southern touchdown. Despite it being a cold and rainy day 24,092 attended the game. At halftime the crowd was treated to a performance by the Southern matching band, which had performed at the previous year’s Super Bowl.
Sources Retrieved on NewspaperARCHIVE: Red Bluff (CA) Daily News, 11/25/1970 pg. 8, Alan McCallaster – Oakland Tribune, 11/29/1970 pg. 52
1971 Bay Area Football Classic – Santa Clara 29, Florida A&M 16
November 6th, 1971 was the date of the second Bay Area Football Classic at Oakland Coliseum. Santa Clara put on an aerial show on their way to a 29-16 win over Florida A&M. Santa Clara had two TD passes over 60 yards, and WR James Winegan set a Santa Clara school record with 247 receiving yards. His 84-yard touchdown reception from QB Clyde Lebaron was also a school record. Attendance for the game was down in the second year dropping to 18,560, and for the second straight year the game lost money. The Florida A&M marching band performed at halftime, in what was the school’s first trip to the west coast for a football game.
Sources Retrieved on NewspaperARCHIVE: Hayward (CA) Daily Review, 11/5/1971 pg. 25, Fort Pierce (FL) News Tribune, 11/7/1971 pg. 17, Oakland Tribune, 11/7/1971 pg. 44
1972 Sickle Cell Anemia Football Classic – Prairie View A&M 16, Cal State Hayward 0
Cal State Hayward and Prairie View A&M kicked off their seasons on September 9th, 1972 in the Sickle Cell Anemia Football Classic at the Oakland Coliseum. Prairie View A&M dominated the game on their way to an easy 16-0 victory over Cal State Hayward. A crowd of 16,000 was reported, but Stew Nohrnberg from The Daily Hayward (CA) Review estimated “it looked like 6,000”. Former Raiders All-Pro and Prairie View A&M alumnus Clem Daniels was honored at halftime.
As far as I could tell from my research, this was the last college football game to ever be played at the Oakland Coliseum.
Sources Retrieved on NewspaperARCHIVE: Hayward (CA) Daily Review, 4/21/1972 pg. 29, Oakland Tribune, 9/7/1972 pg. 39, Jack Rux – Oakland Tribune, 9/9/1972 pg. 13, Stew Nohrnberg – Hayward (CA) Daily Review, 9/10/1972 pg. 31
1971 East-West Shrine Game – West All-Stars 17, East All-Stars 13
On January 2nd, 1971 the Oakland Coliseum hosted it’s only East-West Shrine college all-star game. Despite bitterly cold weather by California standards, 54,000 fans attended the game. Looking back at the weather records from that date, wind chills were probably in the upper 30’s to low 40’s at kickoff. But the fans were treated to an exciting game of football and an entertaining halftime show.
On the opening kickoff Utah’s Norm Thompson ran the ball to the 13-yard line where he handed the ball off to Missouri’s Mel Gray. From there Gray ran the length of the field for what turned out to be 99-yard game opening touchdown for the West All-Stars. Gray also caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Santa Clara QB Dan Pastorini.
It was a red-letter day for Pastorini. He also kicked a 42-yard field goal, and was named the game’s MVP after leading the West All-Stars to a 17-13 victory. Pastorini also solidified his status as a top draft pick despite coming from a small school. Later in his career Pastorini would become the QB of the Oakland Raiders in 1980.
The East All-Stars almost pulled off a fourth quarter comeback, sparked by a 94-yard interception TD return by Minnesota’s Jeff Wright. The game also marked the first time in 18 years that players from Ivy League schools were allowed to participate in a post-season all-star game.
The halftime show also dazzled the crowd. I can’t post a photo for copyright reasons, but if you or your local library has an account to NewspaperARCHIVE there is a great picture on the front page in the January 3rd, 1971 edition of the Oakland Tribune; a wide shot of Oakland Coliseum and a 45-yard American flag draping the field at halftime, as well as some other great photos from the game.
Sources Retrieved on NewspaperARCHIVE: Pasadena (CA) Star-News, 5/15/1970 pg. 19, San Mateo (CA) Times, 11/17/1970 pg. 33, Long Beach (CA) Independent Press-Telegram, 1/3/1971 pg. 55, Gaile Russ- Oakland Tribune, 1/3/1971 pg. 56