SURRATT: So why not a bowl for Vicksburg?

Published 4:00 am Friday, December 9, 2022

Why doesn’t Vicksburg have its own college post-season bowl game?

I say post-season because we have the Red Carpet Bowl, but that’s for high school teams and not higher education.

So why not a post-season bowl in Vicksburg? We may not be able to attract two Power 5 schools, but why not a pair of FCS schools or a pair of Division 2 schools? Maybe community college teams. Let’s face it; the city fathers and the area’s tourism gurus are always looking for ways to bring tourists to the area, so why not a post-season bowl game that will attract people from the far-flung locations of the U.S.?

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The post-season bowl tradition began in 1902 with the Rose Bowl and was followed 33 years later by the Sun, Sugar and Orange bowls. The Cotton Bowl followed in 1937.

Since then, a plethora of post-season gridiron classics have emerged from the shadows and made their way into our football culture. For a college football fan like me, it’s Valhalla; several weeks’ worth of games to sit back and enjoy (or in some cases, try to enjoy). But I’ve always been curious how these newer bowls began and how they’ve managed to grow like so many weeds in your front yard.

My father always had a theory that bowls are the result of a bunch of guys sitting somewhere talking.

“One of them says, ‘Let’s go have a ball’ and someone thinks he said ‘bowl’ and they start picking teams,” he used to say.

Now I realize some of these bowls are in some way shape or form held to benefit a worthy cause like a charity or children’s hospital. And some of them are in what I consider strange locations for a sports “classic.”

We’ll start with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, formerly the Humanitarian Bowl, in Boise, Idaho. Now I’m sure Boise is a beautiful city, and playing on “Smurf Turf” is a novelty, but who wants to play in a bowl in Idaho in the winter?

Idaho is extreme, but here are some others: Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte, N.C.; Myrtle Beach Bowl, Conway, S.C.; Lending Tree Bowl, Mobile, Ala.; Camellia Bowl, Montgomery, Ala.; the Frisco Bowl, Frisco, Texas.

You can look at those places and see they’re not that exotic. In fact, with the possible exception of Mobile and Conway and their beaches, they’re not much different from Vicksburg. Bigger maybe, but not better.

So why not Vicksburg? We have a stadium that holds a good crowd, we’re located on two major highways; we have hotels, restaurants and one of the greatest tourist attractions in the South in the Vicksburg National Military Park and the Mississippi River. Surely there’s the possibility of hosting a bowl game featuring FCS or Division 2 schools or two HBCU schools.

Maybe it’s time our local leaders considered it. It’s one more way to show off our city to the nation in a positive light. It’s something worth considering.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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