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College Bowl Games

After twelve years, the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, California, was still struggling to attract interest in 1901, and its organizers were thinking of moving it from New Years Day to Washington's Birthday. James Wagner, a newcomer from the east, was elected president of the tournament in the fall of 1901. He suggested staging a post-season football game to draw more interest and spectators.

There were many skeptics who felt that the $3,500 guarantee to participating teams for expenses would simply run the annual festival even deeper into the hole. But when Fielding "Hurry Up" Yost, the coach of Michigan's undefeated team, issued a challenge to the University of California early in December, Wagner saw an opportunity. A Michigan-California matchup, he reasoned, would be a great draw in Pasadena. California turned down the challenge, but Stanford - where Yost had coached in 1900 - stepped in as a substitute, and the match was made. A crowd of about 8,000 watched Michigan annihilate the California favorites, 49-0.

The game was very profitable. However, organizers were afraid that the lopsided result would discourage fans from returning in 1903, so they replaced football with chariot racing. After amateur drivers didn't work out because they kept colliding with one another, professionals were brought in to race the chariots. Then spectators began to suspect the races were fixed, so the committee decided to try football again. The second Tournament of Roses game, as it was then called, took place in 1916, when Washington State beat Brown, 14-0. Originally played in Pasadena's Tournament Park, the game moved into a big new stadium, the Rose Bowl, in 1923, when it was named for the stadium.

In 1933, Miami started a Palm Festival on New Years Day, with a post-season game between the University of Miami and Manhattan College as an attraction. To capitalize on the Rose Bowl's popularity, the game was renamed the Orange Bowl and the festival became the Orange Bowl Festival in 1935. Also in 1935, the Sugar Bowl was inaugurated in New Orleans. Two more bowl games began in Texas in the next two years: El Paso's Sun Bowl in 1936 and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas in 1937.

Although they weren't called bowls, many other post-season games were played during the early 1930s to raise money for various charitable efforts that had been established to raise money for the growing number of unemployed. The NCAA estimates that there were more than 100 such games, almost all of them one-shot affairs. One of them is worth noting, though, because it revived the Army-Navy football series.

The two service academies had stopped playing their annual game after the 1927 season. In 1930, they were persuaded to play a charity game in New York's Yankee Stadium. The game drew a large, enthusiastic crowd, and was repeated in 1931 before another large crowd. Because of the success of the two charity games, Army and Navy resumed athletic relations in 1932 and began playing regular-season games once more. The series has continued ever since.

After World War II, a number of new bowl games sprang up, most of them rather short-lived. Among them were the Cigar Bowl in Tampa, the Camellia Bowl in Lafayette, Louisiana, the Delta Bowl in Memphis, the Dixie Bowl in Birmingham, the Great Lakes Bowl in Cleveland, the Harbor Bowl in San Diego, the Oil Bowl in Houston, the Raisin Bowl in Fresno, and the Salad Bowl (!) in Phoenix. However, two post-season games founded in that period are still in existence, the Gator Bowl and the Florida Citrus Bowl (originally the Tangerine Bowl). A third, San Antonio's Alamo Bowl, was revived in 1993 after having been played just once before, in 1947.

Since the late 1950s, the prospect of money from television has lured many other bowl games into existence. Some went out of business after just a year or two, others lasted a decade or more, and a few of them have become fixtures of the holiday season. More recently, television exposure for sponsoring companies has become as important as the money paid for television rights - and, in some cases, probably more important.

There was much adverse reaction when the Sugar Bowl USF&G Sugar Bowl in 1988. Since then, corporate sponsorship has become commonplace among major bowls. We now have the FedEx Orange Bowl, the Southwestern Bell Cotton Bowl (which was, for a time, the Mobil Cotton Bowl), and the Nokia Sugar Bowl, to name only the major games that have appended corporate names to the original names. There are a couple of others which are known only by a corporate name. The Blockbuster Bowl, for example, was founded in 1990 to publicize the Blockbuster Video chain. Carquest Auto Parts then took over sponsorship and renamed it, of course, the Carquest Bowl. It's now the MicronPC.com Bowl.

To avoid programming conflicts, the "bowl season" has been greatly extended. The original bowls were all played on New Years Day. Now the first bowl game is played about a week before Christmas and the last is played early in January, but after New Years. Brought to you by the entire Fortune 500!

Alamo Bowl - San Antonio, Texas, (1993-)
The original Alamo Bowl, on Jan. 4, 1947, drew only 3,730 fans, so the idea was dropped. However, after the Alamadome was opened, with a seating capacity of 65,000 for football, the game was revived on Dec. 31, 1993. Since 1995, the bowl has matched teams from the Big 10 and the Big 12.
Capital One Bowl - Orlando, Florida, (1947-)
This game originated as the Tangerine Bowl in 1947 and became the Florida Citrus Bowl in 1983, with sponsorship from the Florida Department of Citrus. CompUSA was a sponsor from 1992 through 2002. The bowl is currently sponsored by Capital One. It matches teams from the SEC and the Big 10.
Champs Sports Bowl - Orlando, Florida, (1990-)
The Blockbuster Bowl was created by Blockbuster Video in 1990 as the first bowl game with a purely commercial name. Carquest Auto Parts took it over and renamed it the Carquest Bowl in 1993. It became the MicronPC Bowl in 1997. Micron dropped its sponsorship after the game in 2000 and the Florida Citrus Council took over, moved it from Ft. Lauderdale to Orlando, and renamed it the Tangerine Bowl, which was also the original name of the Florida Citrus Bowl. In 2004, Champs Sports became the sponsor.
Cotton Bowl - Dallas, Texas, (1937-)
The first Cotton Bowl was actually a post-season game between two high school teams on New Years Day of 1936. The following year, college teams replaced the high school teams. The game was originally played in Dallas's Fair Park Stadium. In 1938, it moved into its own stadium, which is named for the game. Mobil Corporation sponsored the Cotton Bowl from 1988 through 1995. Since 1996, Southwestern Bell has been the sponsor. The Cotton Bowl was played on Dec. 31 following the 1966 season. In all other years, it has taken place on Jan. 1. From the 1942 season through the 1994 season, the game matched the SWC champion against an at-large opponent. Currently, teams from the Big 12 and the SEC participate in the Cotton Bowl.
Emerald Bowl - San Francisco, California, (2002-)
The Emerald Bowl originated as the San Francisco Bowl, which held its first game on Dec. 31, 2002. It was established by Giants Enterprises, an entity organized by the San Francisco Giants baseball team to develop non-baseball uses for SBC Park. Diamond Walnuts became a title sponsor. In 2004, the name was changed to the Emerald Bowl, reflecting the name of the company's Emerald Nuts snack brand. It matches a Mountain West team against a Big East team, Notre Dame, or a service academy.
Fort Worth Bowl - Fort Worth, Texas, (2003-)
The games are played in the 46,000-seat Amon G. Carter Stadium on the campus of Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, and feature teams from Conference USA and the Big 12. The bowl's partnership with the Big 12 ends with the 2005 season; in 2006 the game will feature a team from Conference USA against a team from the Mountain West Conference.
Gator Bowl - Jacksonville, Florida, (1946-)
When first played on Jan. 1, 1946, the Gator Bowl drew only 7,362 fans and it struggled with low attendance figures until the mid-1960s. Since then, however, attendance has been well over 60,000 in most years, with a high of 82,911 for the game in December of 1989.
GMAC Bowl - Mobile, Alabama, (1999-)
Played annually at 40,646-seat Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama, since 1999. It pits teams from the Mid-American Conference and Conference USA. The game was previously known as the Mobile Alabama Bowl from 1999 to 2000
Hawaii Bowl - Honolulu, Hawaii, (2002-)
Played on Christmas or Christmas Eve, the game matches teams from Conference USA and the Western Athletic Conference member schools. The Hawaii Bowl succeded the Aloha Bowl (played 1982-2000) and the Oahu Classic (played 1998-2000).
Holiday Bowl - San Diego, California, (1978-)
From 1978 through 1994, this game always featured the WAC champion against an at-large or Big Ten team. Since 1995, it has matched the WAC champion or a Pac-10 team against a Big 12 team. It's played in late December.
Houston Bowl - Houston, Texas, (2000-)
The galleryfurniture.com bowl for the first two years of its existence, this bowl was renamed in 2002. It matches a Big 12 team against an at-large team.
Independence Bowl - Shreveport, Louisiana, (1976-)
Played annually at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, Louisiana, so named because it was inaugurated in the United States bicentennial year, 1976. For its first five years the game pitted the champion of the Division I-AA Southland Conference against an at-large oppponent. Today, it normally features a matchup between teams representing the Big 12 Conference and Southeastern Conference.
Insight Bowl - Phoenix, Arizona, (1989-)
The game was formerly known as the Copper Bowl from 1989 until 1996. It featured teams from the Big East and Pac 10 until 2005. (Independent Notre Dame participates in the Big East's bowl pool, as it is a Big East member in all other sports sponsored by that conference.) Starting in 2006, the Insight Bowl will feature an annual matchup between the sixth place teams from the Big Ten and the Big 12.
Las Vegas Bowl - Las Vegas, Nevada, (1992-)
In 1992, the Las Vegas Bowl was created as a post-season game between the Mid-American and Big West champions, replacing the California Bowl and the Raisin Bowl. Since 1997, it has matched a WAC team against an at-large opponent.
Liberty Bowl - Memphis, Tennessee, (1959-)
The bowl game was played in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at John F. Kennedy Stadium (nee Municipal Stadium) until 1963. Initially, the game, the only cold-weather bowl game of its time, was plagued by poor attendance (the 1963 game drew only 8,309 spectators), so the 1964 game was the first bowl game ever played indoors in Atlantic City, New Jersey at Convention Hall on a shortened field before 6,059 fans. Since 1965, the game has made its home in Memphis, Tennessee in Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium to much larger crowds and has established itself as one of the oldest non-BCS bowls. Since 1997, the regular season champion of Conference USA has served as the host team.
Meineke Car Care Bowl - Charlotte, North Carolina, (2002-)
Inaugurated in 2002, this game was known as the Continental Tire Bowl for its first three years. In 2005, Meineke Car Care Centers became the title sponsor. The bowl matches teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big East.
Motor City Bowl - Detroit, Michigan, (1997-)
The first five games (1997-2001) were played at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. Starting in 2002, the venue was moved to 65,000-seat Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The game features a team from the Mid-American Conference playing one from the Big Ten Conference. If the Big Ten does not have an eligible team, the game has an agreement to feature a team from the Big East Conference.
MPC Computers Bowl - Boise, Idaho, (1997-)
This game was established in 1997 as the Humanitarian Bowl, sponsored by the World Humanitarian Sports Hall of Fame. Crucial.com sponsored the game from 1999 through the January 2004 game. It was renamed in December of 2004, when MPC Computers took over sponsorship.
Music City Bowl - Nashville, Tennessee, (1998-)
This bowl game was played in Vanderbilt Stadium in its first year, then moved into the newly-opened Adelphia Coliseum, which is the home of the NFL's Tennessee Titans. It matches a team from the Southeastern Conference against an at-large team.
New Orleans Bowl - New Orleans, Louisiana, (2001-)
Played annually at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana from 2001 to 2004. The first year featured North Texas from the Sun Belt playing Colorado State from the Mountain West. It is now played between the conference champion of the Sun Belt and a team from Conference USA.
Outback Bowl - Tampa, Florida, (1986-)
The bowl was first called the Hall of Fame Bowl from 1986 to 1994. The Hall of Fame Bowl was held at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama from 1977-1985. In the spring of 1986, the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame decided to relocate the game to Tampa, first at Tampa Stadium (later Houlihan's Stadium) from 1986 until 1998 and the into "The New Sombrero" beginning in 1999. The game became the first bowl in Tampa since the Cigar Bowl from 1947-1954.
Peach Bowl - Atlanta, Georgia, (1968-)
The Peach Bowl was founded in 1968 with no conference attachments, and therefore simply invited the best teams available, featuring the ACC and/or the SEC. This resulted in good matchups in some years and not such good matchups in others. Attendance varied accordingly, from a little over 20,000 to nearly 60,000. The move into the Georgia Dome in 1993 from Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium has brought much bigger crowds to the bowl.
Poinsettia Bowl - San Diego, California, (2005-)
Created in 2005 to replace the Silicon Valley Football Classic. The game was created by the organizers of the Holiday Bowl and will also be played annually at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. The Silicon Valley Football Classic was held in San Jose, California from 2000 through 2004. In the week leading up to the 2005 Poinsettia Bowl, Navy accepted an invitation to the 2008, 2009, and 2010 Poinsettia Bowls if Navy is bowl eligible in those seasons. The fact that there are several naval bases in and around San Diego contributed to this decision by the independent Mids.
Sun Bowl - El Paso, Texas, (1936-)
One of the oldest of the post-season games, the Sun Bowl never achieved the major status of the other bowls that date to the 1930s. In fact, it lost its identity entirely for five years, 1989-93, when it was known as the John Hancock Bowl under sponsorship from the insurance company. It became the Sun Bowl again in 1994, when the sponsorship ended. The Sun Bowl now hosts a game between Pac-10 and Big Ten teams.

Defunct Bowls (partial)

Alamo Bowl - San Antonio, Texas, (1947)
Not to be confused with the modern Alamo Bowl, this version was contested only once. A paltry crowd of 3,730 watched Hardin Simmons defeat Denver 20-0. The lack of attendance caused the game to be a financial failure and was not scheduled again.
All-American Bowl - Birmingham, Alabama, (1977-1990)
The game was known as the Hall of Fame Classic from 1977 to 1985.
Aloha Bowl - Honolulu, Hawaii, (1982-2000)
Played on Christmas Day except for games in 1983 to 1986, the Aloha Bowl was sponsored by Jeep Corporation. The Aloha Classic was called the Aloha Bowl for the 1982-1997 seasons.
Aviation Bowl - Dayton, Ohio, (1961)
On December 9, 1961, New Mexico defeated Western Michigan 28-12 in front of just over 3000 fans. Although the NCAA approved a second edition for 1962, the bowl was never played again. It was a financial failure.
Bacardi Bowl - Havana, Cuba, (1937)
Sometimes referred to as the Rhumba Bowl or the Cigar Bowl, the game was the climaxing event of Cuba's annual National Sports Festival. The first five occurrences matched an American college team (all from the Deep South) against Cuban universities or athletic clubs.
Bluebonnet Bowl - Houston, Texas, (1959-1987)
It was held at Rice Stadium from 1959 through 1967, and again in 1985 and 1986. The Astrodome hosted the game from 1968 through 1984, as well as the last game in 1987. When it was held in the Astrodome, it was called the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl. The game was discontinued following that season due to poor ticket sales.
Bluegrass Bowl - Louisville, Kentucky, (1958)
The bowl organizers' first choices for the game were the University of Kentucky and the University of Alabama. Kentucky was given an invitation to play in the game but the team's lettermen voted 18-12 to refuse the bid. (Kentucky's players also voted to turn down bowl bids, including one to the Gator Bowl, in 1953 depsite a 7-2-1 record and in 1954 after going 7-3.) One reason that Kentucky declined was that the Wildcats had received poor treatment from the Louisville crowd during a 51-0 win over the University of Hawaii at Cardinal Stadium in their season opener. Oklahoma State University and Florida State University eventually accepted invitations.
California Bowl - Fresno, California, (1981-1991)
The games matched the championship teams from the Big West Conference (formerly the Pacific Coast Athletic Association) with teams from the Mid-American Conference. During the bowl's existence it was generally the first bowl game played during the postseason. It was regarded as one of the lower-profile bowl games in that the conferences involved were mid-majors, and was one of the first bowls to restrict its television marketing efforts to the medium of cable television. It was sometimes referred to as the California Raisin Bowl in contemporary accounts, perhaps a historical reference to the Raisin Bowl formerly played at the same location, but formally due to the purchase of naming rights in the games by the California Raisin Marketing Board. Fresno State largely dominated this game, playing in five of the 11 games and winning four of them.
Camellia Bowl - Lafayette, Louisiana, (1948)
In the game, Hardin Simmons defeated Wichita State by a score of 49 to 12. The name was subsequently used for a period for the NCAA Division II championship game, but names for these games were later dropped and they are now merely referred to as the championship game of the appropriate division.
Cherry Bowl - Pontiac, Michigan, (1984-1985)
The first game, featuring the local Michigan State team, attracted about 40,000 more fans than the second game did. Unable to meet minimum payout requirements, the bowl folded after the second year. The Motor City Bowl has since replaced the Cherry Bowl as a northern dome bowl game.
Delta Bowl - Memphis, Tennessee, (1948-1949)
Bowl officials jinxed themselves by signing the University of Tulsa to appear in the 1949 game prior to the start of the season; however, Tulsa started the year 0-8 and had to be replaced by William and Mary. Locals cared little about watching teams from afar playing in the cold and rainy season and so the game fizzled after two years.
Dixie Bowl - Birmingham, Alabama, (1948-1949)
Held twice at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama, following the 1947 and 1948 seasons, after which it was discontinued.
Dixie Classic - Dallas, Texas, (1922, 1925, 1934)
Played at Fair Park Stadium in Dallas, Texas, it was phased out in favor of the Cotton Bowl.
Fort Worth Classic - Fort Worth, Texas, (1921)
Played only once, Centre College defeated Texas Christian University 63-7. It should not be confused with the modern Fort Worth Bowl.
Freedom Bowl - Anaheim, California, (1984-1994)
Beginning with the 1995 season, the Freedom Bowl's WAC conference tie-ins were merged with that of the Holiday Bowl and the game was dissolved.
Garden State Bowl - East Rutherford, New Jersey, (1978-1981)
Played at Giants Stadium, freezing temperatures and a lack of successful local college teams contributed to its demise.
Gotham Bowl - New York, New York, (1961-1962)
The games both years were played in Yankee Stadium. The bowl game lost money both years as few fans were willing to sit through the cold weather, so the game was not renewed for 1963.
Great Lakes Bowl - Cleveland, Ohio, (1947)
The Kentucky Wildcats of the Southeastern Conference was in its second season under coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. Kentucky brought a 7-3 record into the game, their only losses coming to Mississippi (ranked #13 in the final AP poll of the season), Alabama (ranked #6 in the final AP poll of the season) and Tennessee. The Villanova Wildcats, coached by Jordan Oliver, brought a 6-2-1 record into the game, having lost to Army and Boston College. It was the first bowl appearance for Kentucky and the second for Villanova, which in 1936 tied Auburn 7-7 in the Bacardi Bowl in Havana, Cuba. Oddly, Villanova's first two bowl appearances were in bowl games that were only played once, and in cities that never again hosted a college bowl game.
Harbor Bowl - San Diego, California, (1947-1949)
After World War II, a number of new bowl games sprang up, most of them rather short-lived. Among them was the Harbor Bowl.
Heritage Bowl - Atlanta, Georgia, (1991-1999)
Pitting a team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference against a team from the Southwestern Athletic Conference, the game was played in Miami, Florida in 1991, Tallahassee, Florida in January 1993, and Atlanta, Georgia from 1994-1999.
Los Angeles Christmas Festival - Los Angeles, California, (1924)
Played at the Coliseum on December 25. Southern California defeated Missouri by a score of 20 to 7.
Mercy Bowl - Los Angeles, California, (1961, 1971)
The first Mercy Bowl was a special fundraiser in memory of seventeen Cal Poly football players killed in a plane crash following a Bowling Green vs. Cal Poly game a year earlier. The game raised $200,000 for the surviving widows and children and to dedicate a memorial in their honor. Fresno State beat Bowling Green 36-6. A second Mercy Bowl was not played until 10 years later. The 1971 edition was staged in memory of the fourteen surviving children of three Fullerton State assistant coaches and a pilot who died in an airplane crash a month earlier. Fullerton State came from behind for a 17-14 victory over Fresno State. The game was discontinued thereafter.
Oahu Classic - Honolulu, Hawaii, (1998-2000)
Played on Christmas Day, the Oahu Classic was sponsored by Jeep motor company. The Oahu Bowl was part of a double-header played after the Aloha Classic.
Oil Bowl - Houston, Texas, (1946-1947)
Played at Rice Stadium, freezing temperatures for the second game doomed any future contests.
Pasadena Bowl - Pasadena, California, (1967-1971)
Known as the Junior Rose Bowl, originally pairing top junior college teams, it was overshadowed as a four-year college bowl by the actual Rose Bowl.
Presidential Cup Bowl - College Park, Maryland, (1950)
Played at Byrd Stadium, Texas A&M defeated Georgia 40-20.
Raisin Bowl - Fresno, California, (1946-1949)
Played at Ratcliffe Stadium, the first four games were played on January 1, the last on December 31. The games pitted a California team against an at-large team. The California team prevailed in four of the five games. This game is not to be confused with the California Bowl which was later staged in Fresno, which in its later years was marketed as the California Raisin Bowl due to the sale of naming rights to the California Raisin Marketing Board.
Salad Bowl - Phoenix, Arizona, (1948-1952)
Played at Montgomery Stadium, on New Year's Day. One of a dozen main bowls of the era. Played in Tempe, Ariz., the game was the precursor to the Fiesta Bowl. For the players, the week of the bowl was a once-in-a-program opportunity, and they treated it as one.
San Diego East-West Christmas Classic - San Diego, California, (1921-1922)
Played at Balboa Stadium and the University of Arizona's first-ever bowl game. The Wildcats had high hopes for an upset over a squad called "the greatest football team in the United States." On Dec. 26, in a driving rain, and on a field described as "a churned mass of slippery slime," Arizona failed to get a first down in the first half and ended up losing 38-0. The desert-dwelling Wildcats were simply out of their element.
Seattle Bowl - Seattle, Washington, (2001-2002)
Played between teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Pacific Ten Conference, this bowl game was a continuation of the Aloha Bowl which had moved to Seattle. The 2001 game was played at Safeco Field and the 2002 game was played at Seahawks Stadium. The game was discontinued in 2003 when financing could not be secured.
Shrine Bowl - Little Rock, Arkansas, (1948)
Played at War Memorial Stadium, the final score was Hardin-Simmons 40, Ouachita Baptist 12.
Silicon Valley Football Classic - San Jose, California, (2000-2004)
Sometimes referred to simply as the Silicon Valley Bowl or Silicon Valley Classic. Played at Spartan Stadium on the South Campus of San José State University. It had a contractual tie-in with the Western Athletic Conference throughout its history; starting in 2003, it had a second tie-in with the Pac-10. On April 20, 2005, it was announced that the game's license would not be renewed by the NCAA and the Postseason Football Licensing Subcommittee. The 2004 game was a disaster, with many factors (including a driving rainstorm that kept fans away, an unfavorable matchup due to not having eligible candidates in the WAC and Pac-10, and other bad press) contributing to its decision. It was replaced by the Poinsettia Bowl.

Partially from info at HickokSports. Created by Ralph Hickok.

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