History

The Fast, Furious, Frustrating History of the Heritage Bowl (Part I)

The Heritage Bowl was a decade-long experiment to build the ultimate HBCU football bowl. It did NOT go smoothly.

We Just Don’t Want The Game To Die

Troubles would extend into the new year as finding a place for the game proved to be a serious issue. The Orange Bowl couldn’t find sponsors, and consideration was given to moving the game to Tallahaassee or even Lorman, MS, home of Alcorn State.

Eddie Robinson was among the crowd at the first Heritage Bowl, and by all accounts, he was excited about the possibilities for the two conferences. It didn’t take long, however, for his excitement to turn into indifference, at least, or opposition at worst. Just before the Bayou Classic kicked off that year, Robinson told the Shreveport Times that he wasn’t ready to commit to bringing his Tigers to the bowl game should they earn an invite. 

“I’m not speaking as the last word for Grambling, but I’m concerned about how the conference is going to be operated. I’m concerned because at the conference meeting I addressed the commissioner and told him the Heritage Bowl was in trouble. I told him we had contacted some sponsors and sites and he looked at me like I wasn’t there. He chose not to talk about it.

Ultimately, the game was moved to Bragg Memorial Stadium in Tallahassee, home of Florida A&M who would go on to host Eddie Robinson and Grambling as the SWAC took over the game from the Heritage Sports Authority. Grambling would smash FAMU 45-15. The Jan. 2 game did slightly better than the original at the ticket office with 11,273 in paid attendance, which allowed the game to break even.

“We just don’t want the game to die,” James Frank told the Tallahassee Democrat. “We’re going to do what a sponsoring agent would normally do and keep the game alive.”

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The Fast, Furious, Frustrating History of the Heritage Bowl (Part I)
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