The annual Chick-fil-A Bowl as we know it is no more.
Back on April 24, 2013, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) conference commissioners selected the Chick-fil-A Bowl as one of an elite group of six bowl games to host the new College Football Playoffs. It joins the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowls – appropriately named “The New Year’s Six” – as hosts of the new playoff structure that will begin following this year’s college bowl season.
But that didn’t stop the Bowl’s 46th matchup between Texas A&M and Duke University on Dec. 31 at the Georgia Dome from being any less thrilling.
Led by 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel’s four touchdowns, the Aggies staged a rousing 52-48 come-from-behind win over the Blue Devils to usher in the New Year.
For many years the game, founded in 1968, was originally called the Peach Bowl, and featured showdowns between Atlanta Coast Conference (ACC) and Southeastern Conference (SEC) teams since 1992. It was renamed the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in 2006. Texas A&M’s victory for the SEC tied the all-time series against the ACC at 11 apiece.
According to the BCS reports, as one of the new “Host Bowls,” the Chick-fil-A Bowl will present a national semifinal game (No. 1 vs. No. 4; or No. 2 vs. No. 3) four times over the next 12 years. In the other eight years, the Bowl will host top-ranked teams from around the country as assigned by a BCS selection committee. All games will be played either on Dec. 31 or Jan. 1.
Prior to bowl selections, “Team Atlanta”, consisting of representatives from Chik-fil-A, the Governor’s office, Mayor’s office, Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Georgia World Congress Center Authority, the Georgia Dome, the Atlanta Sports Council and the Atlanta Falcons, worked to assemble the playoff bid. The group worked together to present a compelling proposal that was ultimately approved by conference commissioners. The goal is to eventually host a national championship game in Atlanta.
“We’ve had a good recipe with the SEC and ACC”, Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO Gary Stokan said. “Now you’re talking about the potential of getting the top 12-, and top15-ranked teams playing against each other and hosting four semifinal games over 12 years and really elevating our bowl to be one of the top six in the country.”
Following this year’s game, which aired on ESPN, bowl officials reported it was the most viewed non-BCS bowl game in ESPN history, where an average of 8.69 viewers tuned in to see the No. 21-ranked Aggies of Texas A & M battle No. 24 Duke. Viewers this year surpassed last season’s LSU (No. 8) and Clemson (No. 14) matchup which had 8.56 million viewers. This was also the Bowl’s 17th consecutive sellout, giving it the second-longest sellout streak in the nation, trailing only the Rose Bowl.
“When we selected Texas A&M and Duke, we knew we had one of the most compelling matchups of the season,” said Stoken. “The dramatic game of record-setting offense was equally as exciting for fans attending as it was for the fans at home, thanks to our unopposed time slot in primetime on ESPN.”
This year the Chick-fil-A Bowl distributed a record total team payout of $7.4 million bringing the all time payout to a total of $125.2 million. In addition, the Chick-fil-A Bowl continued its reign as College Football’s most charitable Bowl game contributing a record $1.6 million in scholarship and charity this year for a historical total of $17.3 million since 2002.
The Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation and the Chick-fil-A Bowl awarded Duke Univ. Head Coach David Cutcliffe with the 2013 Dodd Trophy. The award, established in 1976, honors the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision head football coach whose program represents the highest ideals on and off the field. …Both teams visited the Martin Luther King Center and met with Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Dr. C.T. Vivian during their stay in Atlanta.
Deitra P. Johnson contributed to this report.