Outback Bowl Prologue
The first Orange and Sugar Bowls were played in 1935, the Sun Bowl started up a year later and the first Cotton Bowl was held in 1937. Bowl games are often seen as a way to promote the community, and in some cases raise money for charity, and there has been a proliferation of games over the years. Some games have survived the test of time and there are always new venues replacing those that fall by the wayside. There have been discussions for decades on instituting a playoff system to determine a national champion, however, the negative effect on the bowl games has been the biggest obstacle. The bowl tradition continues and so does the controversy on who is the national collegiate football champion.
|Before the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame moved the Hall of Fame Bowl to Tampa, it was played in Birmingham, Alabama and known as the Hall of Fame Classic. Legion Field hosted the game nine times (1977-85). After the game moved to Tampa, the All-American Bowl was held for five seasons (1986-90) and the stadium hosted the SEC Championship Game for two years (1992-93). The next postseason college game to be played at Legion Field was the 2006 PapaJohns.com Bowl.|
On the other side of the Bay, St. Petersburg hosted the Holiday Bowl from 1957- 60. That bowl served as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national title game, so the four games featured small schools, such as Lenoir-Rhyne College, Hillsdale College and Humboldt State University.
The first attempt to bring a major bowl game to Tampa took place on January 9, 1966. The newly formed West Coast Bowl Association sent a delegation to Washington D.C. to meet with an NCAA committee, however, they were unsuccessful in the attempt to land a new bowl game. Shortly after that effort, Tampa did begin hosting some college all-star games.
The All-American Bowl was played in Tampa from 1969-77. That all-star game featured a North versus South configuration with the north winning seven of the nine games. In 1975, University of Tampa quarterback Freddie Solomon tossed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Florida wide receiver Lee McGriff with 15 seconds left to lead the South to a 28-22 victory. The Can-Am Bowl, which matched up collegiate players from the United States against Canadian college players, was held from 1978-79. The U.S. all-stars won both of those contests.
Early in 1985, word came that the Hall of Fame Bowl was looking to relocate. The game had taken place at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama since 1977. A Tampa group acted quickly and committees were formed to bring the game to Tampa Stadium. One of the first hurdles was to come up with the money to stage the game. More than one hundred local individuals and corporations made donations to help the group obtain a letter of credit for $1 million, which would be required to make the $500,000 NCAA minimum payout to each team.
On April 16, 1986, an agreement was reached with the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame to bring the game to Tampa Bay. When the NCAA certification followed, Tampa Bay had landed its major bowl game. To let people know about the new game, bowl officials sent out hundreds of stuffed teddy bears. College coaches and athletic directors around the country received the bears with a name tag stating "You may 'bearly' know us but we're 'sunplace' special!"
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