When the new College Football Playoff settled on a six-bowl format for its national semifinal rotations, it needed to add two bowls to the four that had made up the BCS. Two bowls to join the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar and Orange.
The College Football Playoff settled on the Cotton Bowl and the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
The Cotton Bowl was a gimme. Great tradition. Great organization. Great stadium. Great location.
But the Chick-fil-A Bowl? Good, solid bowl game. Excellent organization, which has established a season-opening game in Atlanta, too. But never an elite bowl. A so-so stadium (Georgia Dome). Great college football fervor (Atlanta) but shaky weather and not any kind of destination spot over New Year’s. And a bad name.
That’s maybe was the worst of it. The Chick-fil-A Bowl certainly sounded nothing like the Rose Bowl. Or the Orange Bowl. Or the Sugar Bowl. Or the Fiesta Bowl. Or the Cotton Bowl.
Nothing against the good folks at Chick-fil-A, who put out a quality product and run the best fast-food operation in the business. It’s not even close, really. Whoever runs Chick-fil-A could ditch the chicken business and run seminars on how to operate a company. Probably make just as much money.
But it’s not a good name for a bowl. The Atlanta game was known as the Peach Bowl until 1996, when it became the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Then a decade later, the Peach was dropped. It was just the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
But a new sponsorship agreement announced this week with Chick-fil-A restores the Peach name. The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
And it’s no coincidence. Keep company with the likes of the Rose and Orange bowls, and a game better get a traditional-sounding name. Every bowl plays the sponsorship/corporate game these days, but sponsorships come and go. The College Football Playoff doesn’t want one of its rotational games to be called the Chick-fil-A Bowl one year, the Burger King Bowl the next.
When you’re hosting the ACC runnerup against the No. 4 SEC team, Chick-fil-A Bowl works. When you’re hosting a national semifinal — Alabama vs. Ohio State, Oklahoma vs. Clemson, Florida State vs. Notre Dame — a more regal-sounding name is required. The Peach Bowl works.