The Bacardi Bowl in Cuba, the Great Lakes Bowl in Cleveland and more.
I went to Northwestern and am a fan of the Northwestern Wildcats football team. This is a thankless, frustrating and Sispyhisian endeavor, and has been for the past 11 years.
And this weekend, as usual, Northwestern crapped the bed. They lost to a terrible Indiana team, putting a promising season in huge jeopardy. For a few weeks, we dreamed of Northwestern actually making a bowl game. We lusted for the Insight.com bowl.
This is very different than my friends who went to actual football schools (for example, Ohio State), who’d rather hear a seven-hour lecture on “Wall Street versus Main Street” than have their team suffer the humiliation of playing in a lower-tier bowl game.
It may be a moot point now (because of that bed crapping I mentioned a few paragraphs back)… but all this talk of bowls got me researching bowls, which brings us to this list: 11 college football bowls that no longer exist that sound like they were just awesome times.
And, yes, I would’ve been thrilled if Northwestern went to any of them. (They didn’t.)
1 | Bacardi Bowl (1907-1946)
So cool. This bowl was held seven times in Cuba between 1907 and 1946.
(I can only imagine the travel packs that boosters would put together for this today. “$3,000 for airfare, hotel, all the cigars you can fit into orifices and your name permanently on America’s commie watch list. But, hey, that’s a bargain to watch YOUR UConn Huskies take on the Aztecs of San Diego State!”)
For six of the seven Bacardi Bowls, an American college team would play a Cuban team. And two times, the Cubans won (Havana Athletic Club beat Tulane 11-0 in 1910 and Havana University beat Ole Miss 14-0 in 1921.) (I’m particularly intrigued by the 11-0 score, since that was pre-two point conversion, which means the Havana Athletic Club did it with either three field goals and a safety or a field goal, touchdown, missed extra point and safety.)
The only time a Cuban team didn’t play in the Bacardi Bowl was 1937, when it was Auburn against Villanova. And, apparently, that game almost got canceled, because it took place right after Batista took power in Cuba… and the Bacardi Bowl organizers forgot to put his picture in the programs.
In the final Bacardi Bowl, Southern Miss eagle-clawed Havana University 55 to nothing. And that was the end of the game.
2 | Boardwalk Bowl (1961-1973)
Vegas has its postseason bowl. Why does Atlantic City always get the shaft?
It wasn’t always this way. For 13 glorious years, A.C. held a bowl of its own.
Now… they called it the Boardwalk Bowl, but, looking at the matchups, it feels to me like it was more Baltic and/or Mediterranean Avenue. The first seven games was Pennsylvania Military College versus the U.S. Merchant Marines Academy. After that, five of the six other Boardwalk Bowls featured the University of Delaware.
Maybe if they’d dug down a little deeper into the community chest they could’ve brought some better schools to town. Or maybe they’re just charging too much for repair to hotels and houses. And that $75 luxury tax couldn’t have been attractive to schools with rich alums. I could go on.
3 | Bluegrass Bowl (1958)
I love this one. So some people in Louisville decide they’re gonna host a bowl game. And they are determined to have the University of Kentucky in it. But Kentucky says no, because they’re all salty because the crowd at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville booed them during a game earlier in the year.
So the organizers get Oklahoma State and Florida State to be in the bowl. But, the day of the bowl, it’s minus-20 degrees and snowing in Louisville. So no one shows up. And the matchup wasn’t particularly interesting in the first place, so no one really watches on TV.
Only about 3,000 people show up… ABC says they’re not going to televise the bowl if it’s played again… so it dies after just one year.
Oklahoma State won, by the way, 15-6. The players had to wear tennis shoes because the field was too icy for their cleats to work.
4 | California Raisin Bowl (1981-1991)
The California Raisins were my homeys. This bowl was called the California Bowl (lame) until the California Raisin Advisory Board bought the naming rights and made it awesome.
In 1992 it moved to Las Vegas and became the Las Vegas Bowl. (Lame.)
5 | Garden State Bowl (1978-1981)
In 1978, a group of bowl organizers came up with a theory: Watching your school compete in a bowl game in a warm climate like Florida is totally overrated. They believed that, instead, real fans would want to to travel to New Jersey in mid-December to watch a lower-tier bowl game.
Fans… did not.
The Garden State Bowl died after four years. Each of the four games was played in freezing temperatures.
Whether it was the cold factor, the mediocre matchup factor or the New Jersey factor that really ended this thing… that, no one knows.
6 | Great Lakes Bowl (1947)
In 1947, a group of bowl organizers came up with a theory: Watching your school compete in a bowl game in a warm climate like Florida is totally overrated. They believed that, instead, real fans would want to to travel to Cleveland, Ohio, in mid-December to watch a lower-tier bowl game.
Fans… did not.
The Great Lakes Bowl died after only one year. Kentucky beat Villanova at Cleveland Stadium with 14,908 people in attendance.
Whether it was the cold factor, the mediocre matchup factor or the Cleveland factor that really ended this thing… that, no one knows.
7 | Gotham Bowl (1960 [sort of]-1962)
In the early 1960s, New York got a bowl game, the Gotham Bowl. And it… did not go well. The first year, 1960, they invited Oregon State to play… but couldn’t find any other team that was willing to travel to NYC to play them.
The next year they got Baylor and Utah State to play at the Polo Grounds… but, like all the aforementioned bad matchups in freezing temperatures, no one really showed up.
They moved the venue to Yankee Stadium for 1962 and got Nebraska and Miami to play. But, still, no one really wanted to brave the cold for the game… it lost big money… and the New York bowl dreams were over.
I’m sure that there are plenty of stories that will be told about this bowl as everyone in the Liberal Media continues to fellate Yankee Stadium. Maybe a first-hand recollection by some guy who begins the 14,000-word story with a line like, “Over the din of musky cigar smoke in New York’s 21 Club, a solitary voice could be heard. Incongruous to the talk of stocks and bonds, bears and bulls, Madison Avenue and Wall Street, it echoed, powerfully, in the air. Beat the Huskers, it said.”
8 | Vulcan Bowl (1942-1952)
The Vulcan Bowl was played in Birmingham, Alabama, nine times between 1942 and 1952, and was designed for historically black colleges.
But I feel like, if this still existed today, they’d eschew the black college tie-in and be all over a nerd school like Northwestern, hoping the Star Trek innuendo would help pack the place. (Even though the student body there generally falls into the “too much time at the library/90-pound Indian kid wearing bright blue jeans” nerd genre and not “speak Klingon/read Watchmen/make Battlestar Galactica fansite” nerd genre, it’s still closer than, say, Arizona State or Florida.)
9 | Galleryfurniture.com Bowl (2000-2001)
During the ridiculous period where everything had dot-com names slapped on, this was one of the goofiest. Really? This was the name of a bowl? How could any school be fired up about going to this? Have a trophy that says “Galleryfurniture.com Bowl Champions” permanently in the trophy case? It somehow sounds even lamer than the MicronPC.com Bowl.
Anyway, it only happened twice, 2000 and 2001. Then it was (wisely) renamed the Houston Bowl. The next year, it was (unwisely) re-renamed the EV1.net Houston Bowl. Which definitely sets a bowl record for being named after two completely obscure websites.
In 2006, the bowl went under after EV1.net dropped out.
10 | Salad Bowl (1948-1952)
This might be the coolest name of all. And if we were in this, it would be so easy to talk shit. “Hey, Big 12 fifth-place team, Northwestern is going to toss the crap out of you at the Salad Bowl.” And the like.
The Salad Bowl was played in Phoenix five times, from 1948 to 1952. Three of those years included a teacher’s college (North Texas State Teachers College in 1948 and Arizona State Teachers College in 1950 and ’51)… all three times the teachers lost to a real football school (Nevada, Xavier and Miami of Ohio, respectively.)
Somehow, this got to be a January 1st bowl.
11 | Bud Bowl (1989-1997)
I know this wasn’t a college bowl game, and there are plenty of others I could’ve picked from (including the Glass Bowl, Dixie Bowl, Pecan Bowl, Poi Bowl, Seattle Bowl, Cherry Bowl and on and on)… but dammit, I think America really wants to see if the Baylor Bears could beat Bud Dry.