46 days until the ACC: 46 years in college football's capital
There have been a multitude of bowl games over the 100+ years of college football and while the four BCS bowls are usually the first games that come to mind amongst the casual fan, there may not be a non-BCS bowl with the prestige and history of the Peach Bowl. Since 1968, the ACC has almost annually sent a team to Atlanta to be matched up against a power conference school.
Atlanta has always been an important city in the world of athletics, whether they were hosting Super Bowls, Final Fours, and in 1996, the Summer Olympics. But starting in 1968, college football became a part of the city and today, the city hosts not just the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, but the SEC Championship Game and Chick-Fil-A Kickoff. In 2014, the College Football Hall of Fame will relocate to Atlanta. It truly is college football's new capital city.
The bowl game started in 1968 and while it recently has become one of the postseason's most anticipated bowl games, it wasn't always like that, writes Tony Barnhart of CBS Sports.
The Peach Bowl was started for the same reason all bowl games are created: As an attempt to generate tourism in the dead travel period of December. But in its first 25 years of its existence, the bowl could rarely catch a break:
- A recent story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reminded us that in 1978, the Peach Bowl between Georgia Tech and Purdue was played on Christmas Day. Advance ticket sales were so back that Janet Rodgers, the wife of Georgia Tech coach Pepper Rodgers, put together a ticket drive. Attendance was only 20,277. Just imagine if there had not been a ticket drive.
The first three Peach Bowls were played at Grant Field, on the campus of Georgia Tech. The infamous 1970 game between North Carolina and Arizona State featured rain, sleet, and finally snow before it was over (I was there shivering in the upper deck). Arizona State won 48-26. Arizona State officials were less than enthused about the experience. It is not a coincidence that the Fiesta Bowl, played in Sun Devil Stadium, was created one year later.
But in 1986, Atlanta got behind the bowl game and since then, things have really taken off. Especially in 1992. That's when the game moved inside the Georgia Dome and those in charge of the game decided to make it a more regional game to bring in larger crowds. Since then, the game has matched up the ACC and the SEC. In 1997, Chick-Fil-A signed on as a title sponsor and in 2006, the game simply became known as the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
After this season's game, which will be the 46th edition of the bowl, the game moves into the upper echelon of bowl games, joining the College Football Playoff bowl rotation and hosting it's first semifinal on December 31, 2016 alongside the Cotton Bowl.
The Panthers have never played in the bowl game and while it doesn't seem likely this season, perhaps one day, we'll be watching Pitt play in a semifinal in the Georgia Dome.