The college bowl season is upon us and with it comes the pilgrimages of countless alumni around the country to attend football games. Now, even if you don’t plan to travel to a game, odds are you’ll find yourself watching one or two with friends and family. Here are a few tidbits you might not know about the traditions of these “oh so American” competitions.
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
1. 1942 is the only year that the Rose Bowl was not played at Rose Bowl Stadium (due to security concerns following the attack on Pearl Harbor). That game was played in North Carolina at Duke University.
Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX
2. When this stadium is rockin’ don’t come a’ knockin’. The Cotton Bowl has a long history of rock n’ roll appreciation. Elvis Presley played to record crowds (more than 25K in attendance) in 1956 and the stadium has been featured in music videos over the years from Poison, Journey and Aerosmith.
Liberty Bowl, Memphis TN
3. Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium is so named because it was dedicated to the veterans who have fought in World War I, II and the Korean War. The field inside the stadium is named Rex Dockery Field, in honor of the University of Memphis football coach who lost his life in an airplane crash.
Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL
4. Over the years, the Florida Citrus Bowl stadium has had an identity crisis. To start with it was the admittedly ho-hum (if accurate) Orlando Stadium (1936-1947), then we went for a decidedly fruitier angle with the Tangerine Bowl from 1947 to 1976, had a short flirtation with the Citrus Bowl from 1976 to 1977, back to Orlando Stadium from 1977 to 1983, and then to its present incarnation as Florida Citrus Bowl where it has remained for the past 33 years.
Oil Bowl, Houston TX
5. Of course a bowl game christened the Oil Bowl would be played in Texas! Perhaps not surprisingly, this is the shortest living bowl game on record, with just two games played in 1946 and 1947.
Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX
6. Sure you’ve got to have a lot of sunshine in your town to host the Sun Bowl. But did you know the first game in 1935 was played by two local high school teams? Yep. El Paso High School All-Stars defeated Ranger, Texas High School 25-21.
Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, LA
7. The Sugar Bowl has been played every year since 1935 in the Big Easy with the exception of the 2006 game. New Orleans was still recovering from Hurricane Katrina so the game was moved to Atlanta’s Georgia Dome where the game between Georgia and West Virginia was played. The game resumed at the Superdome in 2007.
Pro Bowl, Honolulu, HI
8. In 1980 the NFL decided to move the All-Star game to Hawaii, in order to boost player participation. To date, it is the only pro game played outside the continental United States. It’s also the only bowl game held at the end of the season in a neutral place.
Rose Bowl Parade, Pasadena, CA
9. Ok, so this last one is not technically about the game at all but it is a bit of quaint history (if you’re into that sort of thing. When New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday (like it will this year) you’ll have to wait to see the parade until January 2. This is a holdover from the early days of the parade when “floats” were carriages, but were also the main mode of transport for church going folks. Parade officials were concerned that horses tethered outside the local churches would get spooked by the noise, so to this day, it’s a bit of nostalgia from the early 1900’s.
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