But Brown said he hoped that people would show for the game anyway.
"This is a time for FAMU fans to rally for the school and the team," he said shortly before kickoff.
The first halftime without the band started out with a somber reminder of Champion's death. Larry Robinson, the interim FAMU president, went to the middle of the field and asked for a moment of silence to honor "fallen Rattlers" as well as all victims of hazing and bullying.
Soon after, the student section was swaying back and forth to the performance of Future, an up-and-coming hip-hop artist whose songs are getting plenty of airplay on urban radio stations.
"It's not going to be the same, but it's going to be fun," said Lileah Roberts, a longtime Rattlers fan who came from Ocala to watch the game because her son Devan Roberts is a starting safety.
There were fears that the lack of the band could affect turnout. But by the end of the first quarter, most of the stadium was full. Robinson estimated that some 20,000 people showed up. Some of the students during the game even started songs that would be played by The Marching 100. The Rattlers beat Hampton University's Pirates 44-20.
"What a remarkable turnout by the students and the Tallahassee community," Robinson said right before the second-half kickoff. "I'm really humbled by the show of support."
The first home game follows a week in which FAMU filed court papers saying that it cannot be blamed for the death of the 26-year-old Champion. The university says Champion knew the dangers of hazing — and even witnessed fellow band members getting hazed — but agreed to participate anyway.
For Pam Champion, the first home game without The Marching 100 is a bittersweet reminder that her son is dead.
"Unfortunately, my son is not going to be there with the band. Otherwise I would be at the game," Pam Champion said at a news conference this week in Atlanta.
"In the midst of all the history of that school, with the conduct that has been going on in that band, here's a moment to reflect that the whole thing is about the safety of the students, and until they address that, there is no reason that the band should be there."