Discussion

The Bowl name game

Updated: February 16, 2011, 4:23 PM ET
By Ryan McGee

Welcome back to Going Bowling, where we believe in life, Auto Zone Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Before we get started, a quick tip of the helmet to a reader who prefers to be known as "BIGREDANDBLACK94YALL" -- he or she reached out to me after last Friday's look at how conferences and bowls lobby for better bowl affiliations: "These cats and all their money make me mad and you make me mad for writing that story. If you are ever in Nebraska I will stomp your guts out."

I'm in Omaha every June for the College World Series, dude. I'll meet you out by the bike rack after school.

The name game

As you read this, feel free to play this tune. Or maybe this.

On Monday it was announced that the game formerly known as the GMAC Bowl in Mobile, Ala., will now be known as the GoDaddy.com Bowl. The Jan. 6 matchup between teams from the MAC and Sun Belt conferences is now sporting its fourth name in 12 years. It's been known as the Mobile Bowl, GMAC Mobile Bowl, GMAC Bowl and now GoDaddy.com Bowl.

One would think that changing the name of a game barely two months out would create chaos. But for an industry that changes names and logos more often than Lady Gaga changes costumes, it's no big deal.

"It's really been very smooth," admitted GMAC ... er, GoDaddy.com Bowl director of marketing and media relations Julie Jeter. The moment the new sponsorship was announced the game's website received an instant green and orange makeover, Mobile's Nov. 6 boating event was renamed the GoDaddy.com Bowl Regatta and all was good. "We've been doing this for 12 years now. As soon we knew it was coming we just took care of what we needed to do. And it hasn't hurt that GoDaddy.com is used to big rollouts."

Yeah tell me about it. I cover NASCAR too and a GoDaddy.com driver you may have heard of.

GoDaddy.com marks the fourth bowl name change this year, joining the uDrove (formerly Roady's) Humanitarian, Kraft Fight Hunger (formerly Emerald) and the Bridgepoint (formerly Pacific Life) Holiday Bowl. The Holiday Bowl has now undergone six title sponsor changes since 1986, when Seaworld first came on board. Between Shamu and Bridgepoint it's been sponsored by Thrifty Car Rental, Plymouth, Culligan Water and Pacific Life Insurance.

However, that's not even close to the record.

The Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando is currently under its eighth title in 21 years. The Tangerine Bowl, which began in 1947, became the Citrus (now Capital One) Bowl in the early 1980s. So the name was revived when Orlando added a second game in 1990. Since then it has been the Blockbuster Bowl, Carquest Bowl, MicronPC Bowl, MicronPC.com Bowl, Visit Florida Tangerine Bowl, Mazda Tangerine Bowl and now the Champs Sports Bowl.

The Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando is currently under its eighth title in 21 years. The Tangerine Bowl, which began in 1947, became the Citrus (now Capital One) Bowl in the early 1980s. So the name was revived when Orlando added a second game in 1990. Since then it has been the Blockbuster Bowl, Carquest Bowl, MicronPC Bowl, MicronPC.com Bowl, Visit Florida Tangerine Bowl, Mazda Tangerine Bowl and now the Champs Sports Bowl.

"The whole sponsorship deal kicked off down at the Sugar Bowl didn't it?" former UNC, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest head coach Bill Dooley said to me earlier this year. "They brought a financial company [USF&G] in as a title sponsor in I want to say 1986 or '87 [it was '87]. People started raising a huge fuss about it. All the bowl games then were one word. Rose, Peach, Orange, Cotton, you know, stuff you grew nearby and something that you could actually put in a bowl."

He started laughing at his own observation, then added, "Then they figured out they could put money in a bowl, too."

Once the flood gates opened they could never be closed and they have brought us the subtle -- the Florida Citrus Bowl was actually an ad for the state's citrus growers coalition -- and the gaudy. The Gaylord Hotels Music Bowl presented by Bridgestone, anyone?

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