10 Defunct Bowl Games You Probably Had No Idea Existed
It’s bowl season, which means two things: one, every team that came within a sniff of being .500 will play a postseason game and, two, some of these bowls may not be around next year.
The list of bowl games seems to grow on an annual basis, with a whole bevy of obscure contests added to the mix. For all the Sugar Bowl and Fiesta Bowl majesty, college football also treats us to schlock like the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl.
Here’s a look at some forgotten bowls of a bygone era. We aimed to keep the list centered on bowls that attracted big-name programs (there are plenty of lesser-known bowls that invited small programs) to show that some of these games went belly-up despite the presence of teams with loyal followings and winning traditions.
Originally called the Hall of Fame Classic at its inception in 1977, the moniker of this Birmingham, Alabama-hosted game changed in 1985. Not surprisingly, a host of southern schools appeared. Fun fact: Brett Favre was the MVP of the last game in 1990, despite the fact North Carolina State beat his Southern Miss squad.
A bowl game in Hawaii sounds about as good a reward for any season as any. From 1982-2000, this game lured in some high-profile schools, including Washington, Penn State, Oregon and Michigan State, to name a few. After Jeep ended its sponsorship, the bowl was supposed to move to San Francisco, but it lost its NCAA certification. And here’s a fun fact: a young Bruno Mars played the 1990 halftime show. Check him out below:
This bowl, played in Houston, had a nice run, from 1959-1987, and reeled in some renowned programs. Still, it was all about the Lone Star State: 19 of the 29 games that were played featured a team from Texas.
One of the many bowl games named for a fruit, this two-year bowl was played in Pontiac, Michigan. In 1984, Army beat hometown team Michigan State and the next year the Cherry Bowl died following Maryland’s victory over Syracuse.
From 1984-1994, this game was played in Anaheim, California and never included a team from east of Iowa (the above photo was taken from the last Freedom Bowl, played in 1994 between Arizona and Utah, which, ironically now both play in the Pac-12). A WAC-affiliated bowl, its days were numbered once the conference aligned itself with the Holiday Bowl.
Garden State Bowl
Did you know there was once a bowl game in New Jersey? Yup and it was inconspicuously named after the state’s nickname. The Garden State Bowl existed for four years between 1978 and 1981. Arizona State, Tennessee and Wisconsin were some of the high-profile schools that played, as did Rutgers, which, as the state university of New Jersey, certainly made for a likely choice.
The Pinstripe Bowl brought postseason college football to the Big Apple in 2010, but the New York City previously hosted this short-lived contest in 1961 and 1962. There was supposed to be a game in 1960, but no opponent could be found for Oregon State. Baylor won the next year, followed by Nebraska’s victory over Miami in the last Gotham Bowl, played at Yankee Stadium – a postseason matchup that definitely would’ve been big business a few decades later.
You don’t have to jog your memory too much for this one. This game, played in Toronto, enjoyed a four-year life from 2007-2010. It was the first bowl game played outside the US since the Bacardi Bowl, which was played off and on in Cuba between 1907 and 1946. Rutgers’ Ray Rice was named MVP of the 2008 game after the Scarlet Knights walloped Ball State.
The name alone should indicate this was played in Hawaii. This bowl was certainly Aloha State-centric -- the University of Hawaii played in each edition of the game, played eight times over a 12-year stretch from 1940-1952.
Geez, how many bowls did Hawaii need? This three-time bowl game was played from 1998-2000 and hosted Air Force-Hawaii, Hawaii-Oregon State and Georgia-Virginia. The game ended up becoming the Seattle Bowl, which eventually folded.