The lifespan of a bowl game is brutish, short and sometimes features lots of teams from the Sun Belt Conference.
When the NCAA last approved an additional bowl game in 2010, the four-year average of bowl-eligible teams was 71.8. There are 35 games, featuring 70 teams. If it were to approve another, it would presumably feature a 6-6 team from a weak conference playing against .8 of a team, so... ionno, Purdue?
As we speak, two bowl games are teetering on the edge of life: the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, the game that supposedly features Big Ten teams but never has enough Big Ten teams eligible to feature one, is on alert due to the news the Detroit Lions want to start another bowl game in Detroit, at Ford Field. Organizers insist they can move the game outside, but, man, a second-tier bowl game in Detroit played outside seems a tad superfluous and awful.
And the BBVA Compass Bowl is losing the "BBVA Compass," and although it's searching for a corporate sponsor, it hasn't yet found one. And without one, the dream of a bowl game in Birmingham's cavernous, 1920s era Legion Field might have to die.
If these go gently into that good night, we personally vow not to forget them. I'll never forget the hot-and-ready MAC madness at Ford Field, or Pitt's Sisyphean year-after-year-after-year-after-year-after-year-after-year appearances at the BBVA Compass Bowl. And we'll also take a moment to remember some bowl games past, bowl games we wish were still with us today:
Salad Bowl, Phoenix, 1948-1952
Do you realize that of 35 postseason bowl games, only one of them is named after an item commonly contained in a bowl followed by the word bowl, and that's sugar? Sure, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl sounds like those maelstroms of chicken, mashed taters and corn they serve at KFC, and the Belk Bowl is a bowl fulla Belk, which we as college football fans have made our favorite verb/adjective/noun/expletive, but it's not Belking enough. Long live the Salad Bowl, the Soup Bowl or any other bowl-related postseason endeavor based off of eating items.
Arizona and Arizona State made three ... trips to Phoenix to play in this one, but lost each time, to Xavier, Drake and Miami (Ohio). It was a down era for the conference that became the Pac-12.
Cigar Bowl, Tampa, 1947-1954
2012? Coach gets hit with an NCAA violation for chewing tobacco on the sidelines. 1950s? A DAMN BOWL GAME CELEBRATING THE BURGEONING TOBACCO INDUSTRY. I know that the tobacco lobby is a despicable assortment of millionaires who don't mind the deleterious health effects their product has on millions of Americans. But so is Outback, and we don't seem to mind them having a bowl in Tampa.
This one was between small college teams, with the University of Tampa winning twice and Missouri Valley College going 1-0-1. Remember ties?
Freedom Bowl, 1984-1994, Anaheim
This one once pit WAC and Pac-12 -- then Pac-10, obvi -- squads against each other. We should also note that the one-time Independence Bowl is now the AdvoCare V1000 Bowl. Methinks this is bad news for the Liberty Bowl, currently sponsored by AutoZone. OUR IDEALS OF FREEDOM, GONE.
Silicon Valley Football Classic, 2000-2004, San Jose
One of the more liberal usages of the word classic ever, this Silicon Valley matchup was also between the WAC and Pac-10-turned-12. The .com bubble left its mark on the college football world in the series of this bowl as well as a series of ill-fated attempts by e-commerce sites that overestimated their ability to sponsor bowls and also to exist as companies. Let's take a look back at some poor marketing decisions by no-longer-existent websites, generally with bowls that still exist:
- EV1.net Houston Bowl (2002-2005)
- Homepoint.com Music City Bowl (1999)
- Crucial.com Humanitarian Bowl (1999-2002)
- MicronPC.com Bowl (1999-2000) (Note: both Crucial.com and MicronPC.com were both part of Micron PC, which still exists, but did have to file for bankruptcy.)
- Ourhouse.com Florida Citrus Bowl (2000)
- Galleryfurniture.com Bowl (2000-2001) (Note: Galleryfurniture.com still exists, but, uh, still.)
We can only hope that those in charge of the GoDaddy.com Bowl and the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl know what they're doing. This is to say nothing of failed e-companies like CompUSA that sponsored bowls sans .com attached, or Papa John's decision to sponsor the Papajohns.com Bowl instead of just the Papa John's Bowl.
International Bowl, Toronto, 2006-2009
Our baseball championship is the World Series, and our one bowl outside of the United States was obviously the International Bowl, even if it was so close to the United States that the Bills play there sometimes. My one regret with this bowl is that it was played by American rules instead of randomly forcing a bunch of college kids to pick up the slight variations of Canadian football in three weeks. After all, the MAC tie-in made this early onset #MACtion, and I think those Wednesday night games would just have their awesome quotient heightened by rouges.
Cosmopolitan Bowl, Alexandria, Louisiana, 1951
"107 Ways to Drive Your College Football Head Coach Wild!"
"37 Mascot Sex Tips!"
"73 Things Your Defensive Coordinator Won't Admit Turn Him On!"
Hawaii's attempts to make Hawaii happen
Right now, there's a bowl game in Hawaii, the aptly named Hawaii Bowl, which pits a Conference USA squad against the Mountain West. It makes sense, because Hawaii is beautiful and would represent a wonderful trip for any team for fan of a team that qualified. But it's super-far away and expensive to get to, and six-ish hours later than those on the East Coast, which makes for great Christmas Eve college football watching but awkward timing otherwise.
The Hawaii Bowl is, by my count, the fifth effort to have a postseason college football game in Hawaii, not counting the Hula Bowl All-Star game. Previously, we had:
The Pineapple Bowl, 1935-1952 (originally named the Poi Bowl)
The Aloha Bowl, 1982-2000
The Oahu Bowl, 1998-2000 (actually played as part of a double-header with the Aloha Bowl for two years)
I'd like to commend Hawaii for the perseverance and ability to keep coming up with things about Hawaii to name bowl games after before just giving up and naming the current iteration the Hawaii Bowl.
The Refrigerator Bowl, Evansville, 1948-1956
Did you know Evansville was once regarded as "The Refrigerator Capital of the United States?" YO, PEOPLE IN EVANSVILLE REALLY WANTED YOU TO KNOW THAT. Incidentally, Evansville won this game twice.
Bacardi Bowl, Havana, 1909-1946
Coming from half-Cuban stock (yes, I know, my name is "Rodger Sherman," but, trust me) I have a bit of bias here. It's unfathomable to imagine a bowl game in modern day Cuba. Even ignoring the fact that it is so impossible for Americans to visit that even my Cuban-born dad was unable to go for more than 50 years, American sports are virtually unknown to the majority of the populace, especially football. Plus, all the buildings are falling apart, but in a hauntingly beautiful way, not a Jacksonville way.
But pre-Revolutionary Cuba was an ideal place for a college football bowl game: warm weather, an economy based on tourism, rum, gambling and other illicits. It's also worth noting that Fulgencio Batista's governance strategy was remarkably similar to that of Mark Emmert's.
The Bacardi Bowl was an occasionally played postseason game in Havana, often featuring one American team going up against a Cuban squad. I'm not sure if it was actually sponsored by Bacardì, who used to be based in Cuba before Puerto Rico started taking credit for my people's hard-earned rum reputation, or if that title was merely a nickname bestowed upon a game in Havana. But alcohol companies sponsoring bowl games would be so pointless, since every college football fan is pretty much ready to murder over his or her choice of booze.
Anyway, four times, an SEC team played against either a club or a school team from Cuba. Three times, the Cuban side failed to record a point. The fourth, Ole Miss got shut out 13-0, which I imagine was somehow Houston Nutt's fault. It's also noteworthy that at least one of my grandparents was very likely in attendance at the University of Havana when they were lambasted 55-0 by Southern Miss in 1946, which explains the venom in my writing whenever I bring up the Golden Eagles, who can go 0-12 from here 'til infinity after they rocked the abuelos' alma mater.