Another Bowl Game on the Move?

June 1, 2006

By Brian Hardy


Brian is an assistant editor for and contributes on a regular basis.
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There might be some more shuffling in college football's bowl schedule.


Just a matter of weeks after the newly approved International Bowl - to be played in Toronto, Canada at the Rogers Centre - announced its date of Jan. 6, making it the first bowl game to be played after the four BCS bowls but before the BCS title game, there's a chance that San Antonio's Alamo Bowl may be the next one in line to make the move to a similar date.


Alamo Bowl officials are currently in talks about switching the game's date to Jan. 7, which would put the game just one day before the newly created BCS National Championship game on Jan. 8 - making it the latest of any of the bowl games other than the BCS title game.


The Alamo Bowl - pitting teams from the Big Ten and the Big 12 conferences  - has always been played prior to New Year's Day. And if Alamo Bowl officials decide not to change the date, this year's game will be played on Saturday, Dec. 30, as a late afternoon game.  But if the bowl moves to the January 7th date, you can expect to see the game in primetime on a Sunday evening.


Rick Hill, Vice President of Marketing for the Alamo Bowl, says he expects a decision to be made about the proposed date change very soon.


"We've basically gone longer than I thought we would in choosing a date," Hill said. But I would assume in the next 7-10 days we'll have a decision reached."


Last year's Alamo Bowl between Michigan and Nebraska drew in big ratings for ESPN, the network which televises the contest, as the game was the most watched college football game in the network's history.


And with the opportunity to move to a Sunday night in primetime all by itself, the possibility for even bigger ratings exists.


"Just from a television perspective, to have that Sunday night window open with the NFL games leading into it is a great opportunity," Hill said. "It's a marquee time slot."


If the proposed change takes place, the Alamo Bowl would follow ESPN's coverage of the NFL playoffs on that afternoon, making for a full day of football action. This sets up a similar scenario to the International Bowl, scheduled a day earlier and televised by ESPN as well, as that game would also follow NFL playoff games.


But there are challenges to changing dates that play a factor in such a decision.


"Obviously, it's not easy to switch dates," Hill says. "Just from a team perspective, it's difficult to organize travel. And then, there's a domino effect, from the schools and their schedule, to the city itself. We want to make sure the schools can do it"


Having the game on a Sunday night would also allow alumni to come into San Antonio for the weekend, and with the later January date, it gives fans more time to make their travel arrangements into the city. Also, flying into San Antonio between Christmas and New Year's can be very expensive, and another thought is that having the game after New Year's may allow alumni and fans to travel in at better rates.


"But there's a whole bunch of factors that are being looked at, both pro and con," Hill adds.


Whether the game remains on its scheduled date of Dec. 30, or does in fact make the move to Jan. 7th, it is becoming quite clear that the International Bowl was not just a one-bowl wonder, as the week-long window of time between the four BCS bowls and the BCS title game is shaping up to be an attractive time slot for other bowl games that up until now, have been played before New Year's Day.



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Nebraska's Terrence Nunn, left celebrates his touchdown in last year's Alamo Bowl