Interview With Darryl Nattiel

    Interview With Darryl Nattiel

Mr. Darryl Nattiel what name do you go by and do you have any nick names?

I go by Darryl  Nattiel and I have a number of nick names, in college I went by Nat the Cat, because I was a  Wild Cat and it was short for Nattiel. In high school I went by Nat Moore, because Nat Moore was the top football player for the Florida Gators and I played wide receiver, quarterback like he played, now I just go by Mr. Darryl ,to my swimming students, Minister Nattiel.

What year were you born and where?

1958 Daytona Florida Halifax  Hospital 2: 30 am.

Do you have any siblings?

I have a sister who lives in Daytona Beach Florida, she is a couple of years older than me . She is 58 years old. My parents are decease. I have a daughter.

What high school did you attend and what year did you graduate?

I attended the Great Daytona Beach Mainland High School. I attended 1974 and graduated 1976.


What college did you attend?                                                                                                                   

I attended Bethune Cookman College.

Why did you chose Bethune Cookman College?

That’s a great story because, I had a scholarship out of high school to Albany State. My uncle was one of the top Alumnae’s  there but I grew up on the campus of Bethune Cookman, I always wanted to wear maroon and gold.  During that time, Bethune had a coaching change, Wesley Moore was coaching  and then Andy Henson game in as the new coach. He had no idea who I was,  so I went to Albany State for three weeks.  Then I transferred to Bethune Cookman in January of 1977.

What was it like to be a student at Bethune Cookman?

Well, I’ve been waiting on that for a long time. It was a dream for me. As I said before, I actually grew up on campus. My house was on campus, my backyard was Bethune Cookman. People who went to Bethune Cookman were my playmates, so all my life, all I knew was Bethune Cookman. I could sit in my back yard and see kids going to class, I could see the band and the football team practicing. I could see interracial adults.  So, going to Bethune Cookman was a dream for me because, I could have went to Norte Dame, University of Cincinnati, I could have gone to a divisional 1 school. But to open up my back yard everyday and just sit and watch Black people develop. Then, to look from my backyard and see Mary McLeod Bethune’s house, it was more than just a dream to me. A lot of history there.

How has Bethune Cookman changed since you graduated from the school?

A number of things have happened, first of all, it has grown tremendously in student enrollment, buildings, attitudes and the legacy of Dr. Bethune has grown and what has happen is that Bethune Cookman is a religious institution, 99%  of the students are Christian students they have Christian values even the coaches and the coaching staff. I have seen it come to fulfillment because last season, Bethune Cookman athletics won Baseball Black College National Championship, Football Black College National Championship, Golf Black National Championship and the top band in  the Nation. What other school do you see do that to be so small, I’ve seen it come full circle, Everyone that comes to Bethune Cookman does something. You play sports, you’re in the band, choir, fraternity, sorority . There is something for everyone to participate in. It’s a private institution that cost Twenty Eight Thousand  Dollars a year to attend. So, I’ve seen it blossom into what Dr. Bethune wanted it to become. There is a multi race of people attending Bethune Cookman, black, white, blue and green .It is a great school.

How did the Bethune Cookman and Florida A/M Football Classic originate?

That’s a unique story, because one of my mentors Tank Johnson use to be the Athletic Director, he and one of Florida A/M administrators Pop Costa Kittles, they originated the Florida Classic when we played FAMU one year in 74″, we played them at Dolt Campbell Stadium. There were 47 Thousand people there at that game. So, they put their heads together and said look, if we played at a neutral site we could make some money for our schools. Prior to moving to Tampa we played at Daytona Speed Way and that only held 28 Thousand seats. So, they put their heads together and played at Tampa. That was really the first Florida Classic that was played in Tampa Stadium. It was called the Old Sombrero, the stadium that’s made like a fan we played there for a number of years until the City of Tampa decided to shut down when Black people came to town for the Florida Classic. They shut down the malls. They had never seen that  mass of Black People come to Town. So, they started shutting down the area and price gauging hotels  in the area. They did that for a few years until the Florida Classic Committee  decided to move it from Tampa to Orlando. So , that’s where the Florida Classic is held.

Now that the Florida Classic has moved to Orlando, is it a more welcoming environment?

Well Orlando is  accommodating  place, you have Disney and a number of hotels for a massive people to come to town. That weekend it doesn’t hurt Orlando because they hold that massive people because of the abundance of hotels and they actually look forward to it because of the number of people that come. So, it generates income and helps their economy.


Yes, more income. You see, most people that live in Florida have already visited Disney World. So, when they come to town they come to see the game and just hang out.

That’s interesting what you said about the City of Tampa treatment of the Blacks who visited the City of Tamp  to participate in the Florida Classic Celebration. One of my brothers attended 2010 Classic and he told me the same story. So,that it actually took place.

Actually, what it did, it shocked people because the first Fl Classic had about 40 k people, you have to understand something there were over 300k people in town. Only 40 thousand people came and sat down to watch the game at the stadium. What happened, there were so many people in the tail gaiting, in the parking lots and in the streets you know we got to show off our cars and our realms too, the City of Tampa goes what do we do and they looked at it, as though it was a riot , so they shut the malls down and restaurants. The hotel prices were gauged because they didn’t want us  there . They really didn’t know how to react, they never saw anything like that. Now they have lost it , now they know what they have lost. Orlando it’s not a big deal. Because, Orlando has a mass area of hotels and the stadium is not in the middle of the city, it’s in the Black town. The City of Orlando host three or four Bowl Games within two weeks in Orlando, they can accommodate them. 

What takes place during the week leading up to the game and after the football game.

There are a number of seminars that takes place, you get guys like Dick Gregory who comes in to town. Tom Joiner does number of scholarship programs for kids going to school. A lot of information out there for high school kids . There is positive information for women groups, men groups, fraternity and sororities. There is a number of educational activities going on during Wednesday, even Golf Tournaments. A lot of educational activities between the two colleges because the Florida Classic is a business between BC/ FAMU. We are a business. We are business partners in the Florida Classic, it’s not only a game, a lot of the activities are geared around young kids going to elementary and high school to be able to see what a HISTORICAL BLACK COLLEGE UNIVERSITY (HBCU) does. Like said on the field we are rivals we are playing against each other but the Florida Classic is a partnerships between FAMU/ Bethune Cookman.   

Who are the Fans that support The Football Classic and where do they come from?

All over the country, because you have only so many people that attend Bethune Cookman and Florida A/M most people who attend the Football Classic now does not attend either school. I have friends that come from North Fork State, Howard University, Delaware State and they come down to support the Classic. There are people who come from all over the country. It’s a great celebration.

What are the age groups that partakes in the festivities?

There is a wide variety of activities.  As I said before, the workshops are geared for the elementary students. You have the cheer leaders,  band members and misquote  goes out to the schools to get the community excited about the Florida Classic weekend. Friday night, there is a battle of the bands contest between the community high school bands. This is a very exciting time for the schools. During the battle of the high school bands, the viewing fans are entertained and amazed of how well the bands perform on the field. It’s great to see so many young kids and their families having a great time together. Then on Saturday there is the Alumni Breakfast and Dinners. There is something for everyone to participate in.     

During this time of the Football Classic week, do you see families being divided because one may have graduated from FAMU?

Absolutely, when I was married, my wife’s family were Florida A/M people, my step kids went to Florida A/M. I was a Bethune Cookman guy and we use to ride in a car with one flag that said Florida A/M and another flag that said Bethune Cookman. Every year, It was the family against me. After the game, we were all friends. But really, it’s not much of a rivalry. It’s more about people and families getting out together enjoying each other friendship. However, on the football field it’s still a rivalry .

What makes the half time show so special?

First of all, you have two of the best marching bands on the planet. Florida A/M was the originator band of dance and band stepping. Doctor Foster was a genius in creating that style of performance. He passed away last year. But then Bethune Cookman has originated their own type of show. So you get to see two of the best marching bands half time show there is. You know you can’t get any better than that, it’s fascinating to people. Because, most of the time  after the half time show, most of the people leave.

I know that Bethune Cookman  football players  get a lot of attention. How is it that the marching band also receives a great deal of attention?

You are correct, the marching band has appeared on Ellen Degeneres, Cadillac Commercials, Monday Night Football two weeks ago, doing Drum Line, they have been in movies called a Drum Line, they’ve won the Honda Battle of the Band  five consecutive years. They are an excellent band. The football team actually depends on the band in order to play the game, because, it creates a momentum and gets the team fired up. Bethune Cookman Band has a signature song that they play during the game. This song can be heard being played by some of the local high schools. The community has a great deal of respect for the band. The band has its own accolades, the band is excellent, they are a great group and the athletics is a separate group, they have their own accolades.

Who are the key players that makes this event a huge success?

Us, people like you, putting out this kind of information on your web page, because most people hear about the event and they look at it as a big party. But there are so many other things that you can do at the Florida Classic  to enjoy. By reading your web site, you are putting information out there that they can have a better understanding of what activities are taking place throughout the week. Now, they can truly enjoy themselves. For an example, if you don’t know how to swim you will sit by the pool. But if know how to swim, you will enjoy the pool. So, when you go to the Florida Classic you are not just sitting in the stands or tail gating, your getting some valuable information and your children are getting valuable information and understand what HBCU means.

How did you get the title Mr. Bethune Cookman or if you need to know what’s happening at Bethune Cookman, that you are the go to guy?

How much tape you have? In a nut shell, I grew up on the campus of Bethune Cookman. I am 53 years old and I can remember 50 years of watching Bethune Cookman and I have a photogenic memory , as I told you earlier Bethune Cookman was my backyard. I grew up on the campus and I hung out in the gymnasium. I carried football helmets, shoulder pads, I was a ball boy. Then, when I got there I played football. I also played baseball. My senior year I was a sports information director. After that, I left Bethune Cookman and moved to Miami and started broadcasting. I’ve done almost every job you could have done. Sports information really got me to where I am today. Because , I had to relay all the history and all the different stories about Bethune Cookman. Once we became  a division 1 school there were inquiries of what is this school all about . Who is Larry Little, who are these guys who went to the NFL, so a lot of the information I gathered came from sitting and watching from my back yard . My Athletic Director, Mr. Lynn Thompson told me you can never quit broadcasting because, you are a legacy. You hold something that a lot of people will never have, because of what you’ve seen.

So, you are a walking library.

When you say the name Bethune Cookman, you are actually calling me. It’s hard to explain when you live in a place and you walk out your back door and that’s what you see. It’s almost like saying Mr. Troup, when hear that word Troup you think about your family. When I hear the name Bethune Cookman, I think about me and my family because that’s all I know.

I hear that you broadcast college football games. How did that come about and do you have any intention of broadcasting any future Football Classic games?

I got into broadcasting as a kid because I had a speech impediment. I always liked baseball and sports. I did a lot of reading of different sports magazines. Sports Illustrator was one of my favorites to read. As a child my Mom made me sit down every Saturday and watch The NBC Game of The Week. I never would forget, I would imitate the commentators. I listened to Tony  Quebec, Curt Goudy, Wild World of Sports. I use to watch those sporting program and imitate pronounce words to try to get my speech right. I would spend a lot of time practicing my speech and reading sporting articles. So, I ended up developing a photogenic memory.

In 1999, I approached Bethune Cookman College Athletic Director, Lynn Thompson and asked him if I could do some broadcasting. He gave me the opportunity and since then, I have been active in sports  broadcasting. I can be seen working the sidelines intervening coaches, players and fans.

Why are you such an involved Alumni with Bethune Cookman University?

At Bethune, it says  you inter to learn and depart to serve. My pockets are not that deep but my knowledge is rich so, what I do, I give back the knowledge and know how of what makes Bethune Cookman  ticks. Not only do I broadcast football games, but I also broadcast baseball, basketball, girls volleyball and softball. I remember traveling to Texas with the girls softball team for the Super Regional. Also travel with the basketball team to Oregon, Oregon State, USC and UCLA.I traveled with the baseball team and we went to Old Mis., I set Down Town in Oxford Mississippi where they use to hang Black folks. I set there and spoke with some of the people who were there. I went to Grace Land, I’ve had the opportunity to go to places with athletics that I never would have gone. Through athletic, I have been able to continue my broadcasting craft that God has given me.

Where do you see the University and the Football Classic in the next 10 years?

That’s a good question, I want to say this, I want people to hear this, most HBCU Alumnus, only circle two days of a football schedule , home coming and the Classic. I feel that you are robbing your University because,  when you look at a D1 school, the University of Florida they sale out every game . People are always at their games. At Florida A&M and Bethune Cookman, most people show up for Home Coming and The Classic. Right now, The Classic has been flourishing, it’s under new management, Disney now over sees it, at one time, it was run by State Farm Insurance. The Classic is striving, it’s going to always be there but most people attention is based on whether they are winning or losing. Both programs are doing well, that’s good attendance. The Classic will never die. As long as there is a Bethune Cookman and a Florida A&M , it will never die.  It will always be great.

Where do you see yourself over the next 10 years?          

Walking the sidelines every game, doing the sidelines, adding to my craft. Doing on line research like I am doing with you. Doing more shows, speaking to and mentoring more kids.

Mr. Darryl Nattiel, Sports Elite Magazine would like to thank you for allowing me to come into your home for the 2011 Bethune Cookman /FAMU Football Classic interview.


  1. admin

    October 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    test 1

  2. admin

    October 24, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    great stuff!!!

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