The Jan. 1, 1994 Cotton Bowl was the last before the Bowl Alliance; No. 4 Notre Dame beat No. 7 Texas A&M 24-21.
The next year's Cotton Bowl saw No. 21 USC rout unranked Texas Tech 55-14.
While there were still some Cotton Bowl matchups with ranked teams, the game unquestionably lost much of its luster.
The game's prestige began to pick back up, though, when it moved to the new Cowboys Stadium.
“We were left out, and then all of a sudden this stadium got built,” Bain said.
“We can just do so many things out here that we couldn't do. Also, it's 72 degrees at kickoff, guaranteed.”
Last summer, university presidents approved a plan for a new four-team playoff system to determine college football's national champion.
Beginning in the 2014-15 season, semifinal sites will rotate between the current four BCS bowl games and two more. The Cotton Bowl expects to be in that mix.
“We're doing everything we can,” Bain said. “We really anticipate that we will be one of those selected.”
The two semifinal winners will meet in a new national championship game, which will be bid on by local organizing committees, similar to how the location of the Super Bowl is selected.
“The Cotton Bowl is going to certainly bid on the national championship game,” Bain said.
Some wondered in 1994 if the Cotton Bowl game would die after it was denied Bowl Alliance status.
But after 18 years of picking up the pieces and moving forward, the game's chairman talks of hosting national championship games.
“We just want to get it once,” Bain said. “If we get it once, we know they'll want to come back.”