Cotton Bowl Classic founder J. Curtis Sanford sought to create a unique experience for his game's participants in its early days.
Decades later, as No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 9 Texas A&M prepare to meet January 4 in the 76-year old game, first-class hospitality remains a proud Cotton Bowl tradition.
John Crawford, the founder's son-in-law, sees to it.
“We try to do things in such a way that if people don't come here and have a good time, it's their own damn fault,” said Crawford, president of Downtown Dallas, Inc., and a past Cotton Bowl chairman.
That reputation has helped the Cotton Bowl elevate itself back into the national spotlight, and just in time for college football's budding playoff system.
Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell, who has coached in 10 different bowl games throughout his career, was on Nebraska's staff for the Cornhuskers' 2007 Cotton Bowl appearance.
“This has been one of the most enjoyable bowls I've ever been associated with,” Norvell said. “The people from the Cotton Bowl really bend over backwards to make sure that it's an enjoyable week.”
Cotton Bowl officials provide a plethora of activities — sporting events, concerts, etc., — for players, coaches, administrators and their families. Vehicles — as well as a pool of drivers — are made available to coaches and other VIPS.
“If they want to go from the stadium to go shopping, or they want to go out to dinner, or anywhere in our community, we make sure we have a driver available to them,” Crawford said. “I think that's somewhat unique.”