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The Annual Bowl Game Guide/Naming Complaining Post of the Whopper

Tags: bowl

[What this is: Every year as a public service to those who write about bowl games, I update the same column to help you make sense of all the bowl games, offering comprehensible names and brand-free logos. I’ve now been at it so long that I’ve used up all of the Subsidized Time names]


image_1540: Hey Carol-Sue, I’ve got a question for you.

Happy-woman-Fotolia_12331389_Subscription_XXL_2: What’s that, April?

image_1540: Well you know that last year Lewis and I discovered COMMON LANGUAGE™ for our annual bowl conversations.

Happy-woman-Fotolia_12331389_Subscription_XXL_2: Oh, that’s great! Steve and I use COMMON LANGUAGE™ too. We find their patented, one-of-a-kind Talking Like a Human Being™ technology allows us to share ideas that represent the names of bowl games by assigning comprehensible meanings to sounds instead of letting advertisers choose them!

image_1540: Right, well lately Lewis has been wanting to go to the “Hall of Fame Bowl.” But I had to look up what that was on the Internet to know he meant the Outback Bowl.

Happy-woman-Fotolia_12331389_Subscription_XXL_2: Oh. I see.

image_1540: Yeah. Like, on one hand, I know what the Outback Bowl is, and Lewis knows what the Outback Bowl is. Even my little brother Mork knows the Outback is that #3 Big Ten vs #3ish SEC game in Florida, even if he’s never heard of the Holiday Bowl.

Happy-woman-Fotolia_12331389_Subscription_XXL_2: So what’s the problem?

image_1540: The problem is I feel like if I use the sponsor’s name like that it’ll just encourage bowl game operators to try to get me to stop using COMMON LANGUAGE™.

Happy-woman-Fotolia_12331389_Subscription_XXL_2: Oh, no, you’ve got it all wrong Mary-Sue. You see, the great thing about COMMON LANGUAGE™ is you only have to use whatever works. COMMON LANGUAGE™ is specially formulated to prevent companies from intrusive marketing practices like interjecting themselves into private conversations. But the first rule of marketing is it’s only bad if it’s annoying. If it hinders communication it’s annoying. If it doesn’t, it’s good marketing.

image_1540: Also Ryan Nanni is going to be the Bloomin’ Onion for a quarter.

Happy-woman-Fotolia_12331389_Subscription_XXL_2: Also that.

image_1540: Okay, you’re off the hook Outback Bowl, presented by OH FLIBBITY!

[Hit THE JUMP for a helpful schedule of all 40 bowl games, when they’re on, why they exist, and where they’re played, with sponsorless logos for all!]


click on a logo for a bigger version of it

Saturday, December 16
You call it They say Where? Teams Time Logo
Celebration Bowl Atlanta Grambling/NC A&T noon celebration-logo
FCS bowl started in 2015 between two historically black conferences
New Orleans Bowl New Orleans Troy/N.Texas 1pm NewOrleansBowl
Since 2001 to give Sun Belt champ someone to play, usually C-USA.
Cure Bowl Orlando GSU/WKU 2:30 curebowl
Some UCF boosters knew the system, found a way to get in on the action in 2015. Share of proceeds goes to actually good charity.
Las Vegas Boise/Oregon 3:30 Las_Vegas_Bowl_logo
In 1992 to replace the California Raisin Bowl (West vs MAC). Now it's MWC/Pac
New Mexico Bowl Albuquerque, NM Marshall/CSU 4:30 NewMexbowl_2010_logo
ESPN started it in 2006 to add some programming, rip off a couple WAC/MWC schools. C-USA replaced the WAC.
Camellia Bowl Montgomery, AL ArkSt/MTSU 8pm camellia-bowl-logo
ESPN started it in 2014 to rip off MAC/SunBelt schools, ripped off name from defunct D-II/D-III championship game from the '60s & '70s held in Sacramento (Camellia City), CA.
December 19-21 (Tues-Thurs)
You Call it They say Where? Teams Time Logo
Boca Bowl Boca Raton FAU/Akron 7pm Boca Bowl
Get this sponsorship name: Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl. Another ESPN bowl started in 2014 to rip off some MAC/American schools
Frisco Bowl Frisco, TX SMU/LaTech 8pm Frisco_Bowl
Not San Fran but Frisco, TX. Was the Miami Beach Bowl that the AAC started in 2014. They sold it to ESPN who moved it to this Dallas burb where FC Dallas plays.
Gasparilla Bowl or Tampa II St Petersburg FIU/Temple 8pm GasparillaBowl
ESPN bowl started in 2008 to rip off whomever I call it the Tampa II in my head but Gasparilla is an interesting tradition worth a google.
Friday, December 22
You Call it They say Where? Teams Time Logo
Bahamas Bowl Nassau OHIO!/UAB 12:30 BahamasBowl
ESPN bowl started in 2014 to rip off a MAC team and someone else
Potato Bowl Boise, ID CMU/Wyo 4pm Potato Bowl logo
Was the Humanitarian Bowl, launched in 1997 to give the Big West champ somewhere to play after the Las Vegas Bowl dropped them. That became the WAC, then the MWC. Now they have the MAC's old International Bowl tie-in.
Saturday, December 23
You Call it They say Where? Teams Time Logo
Birmingham Bowl Birmingham, AL USF/TTU 12pm Birmingham_Bowl_logo
An ESPN bowl started in 2006. Used to be Big East/C-USA but now they rip off the dregs from AAC and SEC or whatever.
Support the Troops! Armed Forces Ft Worth, TX Army/SDSU 3:30 supportthetroopsbowl
I can't keep the Military/Armed Forces straight—this one's connection to the armed forces is tenuous: Armed Forces Insurance became the title sponsor in 2006 and now they have Lockheed Martin too so you'll be more confused. It's one of the first ESPN bowls, started in 2003. Bottom feeder bowl with too many tie-ins to count.
Mobile Bowl Dollar General Mobile, AL AppSt/Toledo 7pm Mobile bowl
Mac vs Sun Belt exempli gratia of bottom-feeder bowls. Started in 1999 and best known for being a name whore (GMAC, and trying to schedule itself after New Years. They shoulda called it the MoBowl.
Sunday, December 24
You Call it They say Where? Teams Time Logo
Hawaii Bowl Honolulu Fresno/Houton 8:30 hawaii-logo
ESPN bowl that picked up the history of several defunct Hawaiian bowls (Poi/Pineapple 1936-'52, Aloha 1982-'00). Was a low Pac bowl, now just MWC/C-USA game with a very low payout
Tuesday, December 26
You Call it They say Where? Teams Time Logo
Heart of Dallas or Cotton II Dallas Utah/WVU 1:30 Heart of Dallas Bowl logo
The Heart of Dallas Group that ran the Cotton Bowl created this when the Cotton Bowl moved to Jerryworld. Now it's C-USA vs a low B1G or B12 in alternating years.
Motor City Quick Lane Detroit, MI Duke/NIU 5:15 YOHEIMIER_DMotor_City_Bowl
Started in 2014 by the Detroit Lions to replace the old MCB (1997-2013) that folded. Was a low B1G vs MAC champ game, now low-B1G vs low-ACC.
Cactus or Copper Bowl Phoenix KSU/UCLA 9pm 14cactusbowlxizbhdidwmuhukofc08f_0
Both names come from its founding in 1989--Copper won then, Cactus won when they lost the last sponsor name. It used to be in Tucson. Payout used to be mid-tier (M took home $3.5M in 2015), it's now a lower B12/P12 game.
Wednesday, December 27
You Call it They say Where? Teams Time Logo
Independence Bowl Shreveport, LA FSU/S.Miss 1:30 Independence Bowl logo
Started in 1976 as Southland Conf champ's home. Then it was a mid-tier B12/SEC game. Now it's a mid-tier SEC/ACC game. Independence Bowl itself is a real throwback stadium.
Pinstripe Bowl NYC BCU/Iowa 5:15 pinstripebowl_1
Started by the Yankees (ick) in 2010 as a mid-lower tier ($2M payout) B1G/ACC game
San Francisco Foster Farms San Francisco Zona/Purdue 8:30 sanfranbowl
Started in 2002 by the SF Giants ownership group, it spent a few years as the Emerald Bowl, an ACC-Pac game. Now Jed York owns it and it's a low B1G/Pac game.
Texas Bowl or Houston or Bluebonnet Houston Texas/Mizzou 9pm bluebonnet
This replaced the Houston Bowl, which in turn replaced the Bluebonnet Bowl, which goes back to the '50s. The current iteration is owned by the Texans and gets mid-to-low Big XII/SEC teams.
Thursday, December 28
You Call it They say Where? Teams Time Logo
D.C. Bowl Military Annapolis, MD UVA/Navy 1:30 military_bowl_logo_2_1
They wanted to name it the Congressional Bowl when it launched in 2008. The city created it.
Tangerine II Camping World Orlando, FL OKST/VaTech 5:15 Tangerine Bowl logo
Miami Dolphins tried to start a baby brother to the Orange in 1990. It's since moved to Orlando. Sponsorship changes all the time. Today it's a low ACC/B12 game. Tangerine is an old name for the Citrus Bowl.
Holiday Bowl San Diego MSU/WSU 9pm holiday-bowl
Started in 1978 because the Fiesta dropped the WAC when Zona & ASU jumped to the Pac. When the WAC broke up it became a the #2 Pac/B12 bowl. Since 2014 it's a mid-level Pac/B10 bowl, taking the old Alamo's B10 spot.
Alamo Bowl San Antonio Stanford/TCU 9pm 5kcx6fynk65qmg23v4ek_1
Started in 1993 to give a third bid to the SWC; bad timing yo. For a long time it was B10/B12 #4 game. They've now swapped the B10 for the Pac.
Friday, December 29
You Call it They say Where? Teams Time Logo
Queen City Belk Bowl Charlotte, NC Wake/A&M 1pm queen-city
Raycom Sports started it in 2002 as a #5 ACC vs #3 Big East. Now it's a bottom feeder ACC/SEC game.
Sun Bowl El Paso, TX ASU/NCState 3pm SunBowloldlogo
That weird 80-year-old bowl that fell from New Year's Day to the pile of lowbies. Started in 1936 (they had a HS game in '35) and traditionally had at-lage teams. Fell back in the '80s, took a 6th spot in the B10 pecking order in 1995, and is now a low Pac/ACC game.
Music City Memphis KY/N'western 4:30 music-city-bowl_1
Started by the Tennessee Titans when they moved from Houston (first game was in 1998). Lowbie bowl that gets a B10/ACC versus a low SEC.
Arizona Bowl Tucson, AZ NMSU/UtahSt 5:30 arizona-bowl-logo
Started in 2015 by Campus Insiders plus the MWC and the sharks who own the Fiesta Bowl bc Tucson lost the Cactus Bowl to Phoenix. Lowest of the low: takes an MWC team vs C-USA or Sun Belt.
Cotton Bowl Dallas OSU/USC 8:30 Cottonbowl_0
Started in 1937 and took the SWC winner versus SEC #2 or an at-large. That became B12 #2 until it snuck past the Citrus to be a CFP game. Played at eponymous stadium until Jerryworld grabbed it in 2009.
Saturday, December 30
You Call it They say Where? Teams Time Logo
Gator Bowl Taxslayer Jacksonvile, FL MissSt/Lville noon Gatorbowllogo
Started by some leading citizens of Jacksonville after WWII. Southern Conference was its original tie-in but they moved up to SEC then ACC vs various. Now a mid-tier SEC/B10/ACC bowl.
Liberty Bowl Memphis Memphis/IowaSt 12:30 Libertybowl_2
A Villanova athletic director started it in 1959 in Philadelphia and was the first bowl game played indoors. He moved it to Memphis in 1965. For a time it was the best military academy vs at-large, hooked itself to C-USA champ in 1996 and for a time it was the de facto mid-major championship. Now ti's a low B12/SEC game.
Fiesta Bowl Phoenix PSU/Wash 4pm Fiesta_2
Started in 1971 to find a home for the WAC champ. Then it became an at-large/at-large and struck gold in the era of independents. Got caught ripping off everybody in 2009. Basically the SEC of bowls.
Orange Bowl Miami, FL Miami(YTM)/Wis 8pm OrangeBowlLogo
In 1932, after years of trying to emulate the Rose Bowl, they finally launched a copy in Miami. For most of its history it had the Big 8 and ACC champs.
Monday, January 1
You Call it They say Where? Teams Time Logo
Hall of Fame or Outback Outback Tampa, FL Mich/SCar noon HALL_OF_FAME
A bowl existed in Tampa in the late 40s/50s but the Hall of Fame Bowl started in Birmingham, AL in 1977. In 1986 the organizers moved it to Tampa. Outback's name sponsorship began in 1996, the same year it became the B10/SEC #3s game.
Peach Bowl Atlanta Auburn/UCF 12:30 peach_bowl_logo_2
The Lions Club of Georgia started it in 1968 and it became the SEC #4/ACC#3 game. Chick-fil-A bought in in 1997 and upped the payout to get them up to ACC #2 and jumped the Outback. Then it bought its way into the CFP.
Citrus Bowl Orlando ND/LSU 1pm Citrus Bowl
Florida Citrus Sports started the Tangerine Bowl in 1947 as a D-II regional. It was an at-large game but the Fiesta beat them out for the 1986 PSU-Miami national championship and the Citrus became the ACC champ's game, then the B10/SEC #2. It tried and failed to be the 5th BCS game and bounced from the CFP when the Peach bought in.
Rose Bowl (semi) Pasadena, CA Okla/UGA 5pm rose-bowl
The Granddaddy of Them All. Began in 1902 to showcase the weather and football of the West Coast; the weather proved as advertised but Yost's Michigan proved the football wasn't close. Hosted the Pac/B10 champs again once the Big Ten decided to allow it in the mid-40s.
Sugar Bowl (semi) New Orleans Clem/Bama 8:45 SugarBowlNew
Third-oldest bowl began in 1935, having the SEC champ play an at-large. Tulane (built on a sugar plantation) hosted it until the Superdome was built in 1975.
Monday, January 8
You Call it They say Where? Teams Time Logo
National Championship Game Dallas Rose/Sugar 8pm event-cfp
Launched with the four-team playoff in 2014, with host cities bidding like the Super Bowl.

When I talk about rip-offs, I’m referring to the common practice of bowl games forcing the teams to pay ridiculous markups on hotels and travel, and getting kick-backs from that, and forcing those teams to buy up a bunch of seats they can’t sell. If you’ve watched the bottom feeder bowls before you’re familiar with empty stadia in southern towns nobody would ever want to visit, and you might have wondered how this could be economically viable. Well ESPN created or took over most of them, because live football is better than whatever else they’d be able to run then. ESPN can sell a name sponsorship and just has to send a crew down to cover it. They partner with a local group who represents big hotels and chain restaurants in that city who profit from the teams and their support staff visiting. The teams have to fork it up because the alternative is losing out on those bowl practices.



Lately “ambush marketing” has come to more narrowly define advertisers who hijack an event without paying the event organizers. So we need a new word to describe things like stadium naming rights and bowl games that pay the presenters of the product to hijack language.

Why is it an issue? Because it annoys sports fans, and that’s what we are. I spent a week putting this list to casual fans in my life as a “tell me if each is a bowl or not” and the most anyone got right is two:

I’m not saying this is a major national problem. I do think the more pushback they get on runaway annoyance the less they’ll do it. The evidence is that they do it less. In the chart above I left out all of the tacked-on names; you can figure out what part of “Kentucky Fried Chicken Peach Bowl” was sponsored without my help.

Since I’ve started whining about this, things have gotten remarkably better. A list of the bowl game names that still convey nothing and won’t stick around long enough to have any meaning:

  • Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl—this name would be removed like the rest except people find it so ridiculous they keep including it.
  • Armed Forces Bowl and the Military Bowl—They shouldn’t have two military themed bowls and it’s obvious which one deserves to be decertified: The “Armed Forces” Bowl is especially stupid since it has little to do with the U.S. Military—the name is a sponsorship from Armed Forces Insurance, and they’ve added a Northrop Grumman sponsorship on top of it. Dallas/Ft. Worth is not worth having all of these bowl games in the first place.
  • Dollar General Bowl. This is the Mobile Bowl. Call it that or the Mo-Bowl. They change sponsors so often that you’ll never keep up otherwise.
  • Quick Lane Bowl. Get it? Bowling? Hahahahaha actually that’s dumb it’s the Motor City Bowl for now and ever.
  • Foster Farms Bowl. It’s in Levi’s Stadium. Does this convey any information? No. It’s the San Fran bowl, and yes I know it’s in Santa Clara; nobody ever said Auburn Hills Pistons.
  • Camping World Bowl. Figure it out yet? What if I say Tangerine II.
  • Belk Bowl. Queen City please.
  • Taxslayer Bowl. It’s the Gator. This one pisses me off because at first I thought they got rid of the Gator Bowl.

That list is way shorter than just seven years ago, and things like the “Poulan WeedEater Bowl” have gone back to the recognizable “Independence Bowl.” It’s working.

This post first appeared on Mgoblog, please read the originial post: here

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The Annual Bowl Game Guide/Naming Complaining Post of the Whopper


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