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Sunday, December 26, 2010
Page 2 looks at dead college football bowl games


History is littered with college football bowl games that, for whatever reason -- lack of sponsors, poor attendance or outright managerial incompetence -- have gone the way of the rotary phone. Some died of fan apathy, others financial ruin. And some never even got off the ground.

A look at some of the stranger bowls that have come and gone:

Bacardi Bowl: Also known as the Rhumba Bowl or the Cigar Bowl, the Bacardi originated in Havana, Cuba, on Christmas Day, 1907, and was designed to be the big finale of that country's National Sports Festival. Five of the six editions of the game pitted U.S. college teams against university or club teams from Cuba, while the 1937 contest between Auburn and Villanova was significant for several reasons: it was the Tigers' first-ever bowl game, it ended in a 7-7 tie, and it took place against the backdrop Cuban political upheaval.

Aviation Bowl: Played in Dayton and taking its name from that city's major role in the development of flight, the Aviation Bowl was an utter disaster. The first and only edition took place in December 1961 between New Mexico and Western Michigan. Only about 3,500 fans braved the thoroughly miserable weather, resulting in a financial disaster for the bowl, which was never played again. New Mexico won, 28-12, the school's last bowl victory until 2007.

Haka Bowl: This game's management was so horrendous that the Haka wasn't played. Organizers pitched the idea of a contest in New Zealand in 1996, which would have made it the first postseason bowl game to be played outside the U.S. since -- you guessed it -- the 1946 Bacardi Bowl. But the brains behind the game never secured the necessary financial backing, and the NCAA nixed the bowl's license before it could be played.

Refrigerator Bowl: Who wouldn't want to come to the icebox capitol of America? Producing nearly 4,000 units of the kitchen appliance daily, Evansville, Ind., became home to a post-season bowl game in the late 1940s and '50s. The last Refrigerator Bowl was played in 1956, when Sam Houston State Teachers College upended Middle Tennessee State.

Fort Worth Classic: Played only once, on New Year's Day 1921 between Centre College and TCU, the Classic is significant because it was such a blowout that no one knows for sure what the final score was. Some accounts assert that Centre won 63-7, while others state the tally as 77-7.

Glass Bowl: Like Dayton, the city of Toledo launched a bowl game as a way to market its industrial strength -- in this case, glass manufacturing. The contest also appears to have been a matter of pride for the University of Toledo, which sponsored the event and won its first three editions, from 1946-48. But after losing to Cincinnati in 1949, UT shelved the event for two years. When 1951 rolled around, the Rockets were an embarrassing 2-4, and no other teams wanted to play in the contest. At that point, Toledo admitted defeat and ended the game.

Poi/Pineapple Bowl: The organizers of this game were so determined that the bombing of Pearl Harbor couldn't even keep them down. Originally named the Poi Bowl in 1936, it became the Pineapple in 1940, but after the tragic Dec. 7, 1941, the contest was put on hold for several years. But it came back strong in 1947, for several years pitting the University of Hawaii against an at-large squad. The Pineapple was last played in 1952, falling victim to the rising popularity of the rival Hula Bowl.