My wife was grumbling the other day as I watched a college football bowl game on a rainy afternoon.
“There are too many bowl games these day”, she said.
Might be the understatement of the year.
With 41 NCAA-sanctioned football bowl games this season, mediocrity reigns.
At one time, post-season bowl games were a reward for a “job well done”.
But with 30 of this year’s bowl participants with 7 or fewer wins, one might say”Ho Hum!” might be the best cheer we can muster.
However, I’ve noted several of these 6-6 teams actually won their games over teams with similar or better records.
Some of the bowl games still have a fair amount of glitz and glamour.
The “Granddaddy of them All”, Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, started in 1902 and has been contested every year since 1916.
Despite corporate America shelling out big bucks for naming rights, most folks still refer to other long-standing games as simply the Orange Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and the Cotton Bowl.
The Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas has been hosting games since 1935 and they must do a marvelous job of promoting and wooing because that west Texas town is not one of the more glamorous places in America.
Some bowl games evolve through the years.
For example, this year’s Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix, AZ has also been the Copper Bowl, the Insight.com Bowl, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and the Cactus bowl.
You might remember the Bluebonnet Bowl in honor of the Lone Star state flower.
It started in Houston in 1959 but when the Astrodome was built in Houston, the game because the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl.
Then the game morphed into the Houston Bowl and has been the Texas Bowl since 2006.
How about the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, formerly the Motor City Bowl, in Pontiac and Detroit, Michigan?
It was displaced by the Quick Lane Bowl.
(So much for “Pizza, Pizza!”)
Anyone remember the Ice Bowl?
From 1948-1952, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks played a game against a team from Ladd Air Force Base.
Two games ended in scoreless ties, the Alaskan team won one contest 3-0.
After Ladd AFB scored a 47-0 rout, the bowl was discontinued after the school decided to focus on more “northern” events like ice hockey and skiing.
Many of the defunct-bowl games were not NCAA-sanctioned.
But that was not the case with the Wild Geese Classic in Limerick, Ireland in 1991 and 1993.
The initial contest was intended to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the “Flight of the Wild Geese” in 1691 and the Irish heroes who resisted the English seige of the city of Limerick.
The Irish didn’t understand the American football rules and found the game somewhat boorish and they were unclear as to when to cheer or boo.
How about the Ivy Bowl?
From 1989 through 1996, teams of Ivy League all-stars squared off against a Japanese all-star squad.
The Ivy Leaguers won ’em all, proof positive that the Japanese didn’t think about adding sumo wrestlers as linemen.
Food vendors hawking “beer and sushi” probably didn’t fare well either.
There’s at least one bowl game that never got off the planning table.
The Haka Bowl was proposed for New Zealand in 1996, the first attempt at U.S. college football outside of America.
But funding guarantees fizzled and the game was never played.
It wasn’t until 2007 that the International Bowl in Toronto, Canada became the first American football game played outside of the U.S.
The positive-thinking Optimist Club in Houston, Texas thought the Optimist Bowl in 1946 would be just the thing to raise funds to benefit the states’ homeless boys.
But when only 5,000 fans bought tickets to the game at Public School Stadium, the game was dropped.
There was also the Bacardi Bowl in Havana, Cuba.
The first one was way back in 1907 and the last in 1946.
It was also known as the Rhumba Bowl.
The closest thing we have to it today would have to be the Bahamas Bowl.
They tried the Aluminum Bowl in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1956 but after the inaugural game was a scintillating 0-0 tie, it vaporized.
The mid-40’s seemed to be a popular time to attempt new bowl games.
Tampa, Florida saw the Cigar Bowl (1947), the Corn Bowl (1947) in Normal, Illinois, the Delta Bowl (1948) in Memphis, Tennessee, the Fruit Bowl (1947) in San Francisco, the Raisin Bowl (1946) in Fresno, California, the Salad Bowl (1948) in Phoenix, Arizona and the Refrigerator Bowl (1948) in Evansville, Indiana.
Back in those days, Evansville was the “refrigerator capital” of America, producing up to 3,800 “fridges” a day.
The game survived through 1956.
We also saw the Oil Bowl from 1944 through 1947 at Rice Field in Houston, Texas.
But muddy fields and freezing temps for 2 of the 3 games doomed future contests.
And, how could we forget the Will Rogers Bowl?
In 1947, Oklahoma City played host to the game honoring the American humorist.
Pepperdine topped Nebraska Wesleyan 38-13 in the lone Will Rogers Bowl.
It marked the only college football game bowl appearance for the Waves and the Plainsmen.
Too many bowl games today?
Well, it could have been worse had Dayton, Ohio’s Aviation Bowl, Toledo, Ohio’s Glass Bowl and Lodi, California’s Grape Bowl survived.
They could all have been laid to rest in Dodge City, Kansas, the site of the Boot Hill Bowl (1970-1980).