From the “All Publicity is Good Publicity” department, two MIAC schools received a mention in an online column of “Funniest Bowl Game Names of All Time."
The story was written by Ross Lipschultz of the Los Angeles Examiner for Bleacher Report.com. The writer ranks 30 college bowls with the most unusual names, and sends zingers in many directions.
“For years now, college football has seen its bowl games go from classic names, like ‘The Rose Bowl,’ to something with more words than a Harry Potter book,” Lipschultz writes.
“Company sponsorships and ridiculous naming rights have turned the bowl season into a bonanza for product placement… This naming spree has changed how people refer to games. Some have just been accepted into the football lexicon, like the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, while others are so ridiculous that even D'Brickashaw Ferguson thinks they went too far.”
In his countdown at the No. 29 spot was Tampa’s now defunct Cigar Bowl, which 62 years ago hosted St. Thomas’ legendary team. The Tommies played national small-college power Missouri Valley to a 13-13 tie on January 1, 1949. Five St. Thomas players from that squad were offered pro contracts.
The website even pilfered a publicity photo from our Tommiesports.com of three Tommies posed with the reigning Miss America, Hopkins native BeBe Shopp. (shown at right).
The writer quipped, “The photo shows St. Thomas players celebrating the bowl berth and trip to Tampa, Fla., likely with 50 malted milks off to the side. The game, against Missouri Valley, ended in a tie, which made the only exciting thing in the bowl the number of fire hazards and health risks caused by promoting smoking.”
Gustavus also was referenced for its appearance in the No. 22-ranked Funniest Bowl Name, the Refrigerator Bowl:
“Held in Evansville, Ind.,” Lipschultz writes, “the refrigerator capitol of the world between 1948 and 1956, this bowl featured a classic postseason match-up: Abilene Christian College versus Gustavus Adolphus College's Golden Gusties. However, when people realized who was playing, they hid inside fridges to escape the ensuing boredom.”
Ouch. In truth, the Gusties were a football powerhouse during the 1950s and won or shared eight of the 10 conference championships that decade. Gustavus is the only school to win six consecutive MIAC football titles (1950-55), a streak that was broken by the Tommies’ 8-0 squad of 1956.
Click here to view the story and entire countdown of 30 teams (Ironically, a column that repeatedly rips excess advertising has an annoying pop-up ad for something called the “Drill Doctor”):
Tampa’s Cigar Bowl, which began its eight-year run 1947, hoped its event would grow and eventually join established bowls like Miami’s Orange Bowl and Jacksonville’s Gator Bowl. The 1949 Cigar game was played at night to avoid conflicts with radio broadcasts of the afternoon's major bowls. The event was discontinued after the 1954 game.
St. Thomas, with just four seniors on a 35-man roster, started its 1948 season 7-0 but lost its final game to Loras. The Tommies were still chosen for the Tampa bowl trip among two other finalists -- Wofford (S.C.), and Bowling Green (Ohio). Wofford started the 1948 season with a collegiate record five consecutive ties before winning its last four contests. In fact the Jan. 1, 1950 Cigar Bowl pitted Wofford against Florida State, then a smaller college which played in the Dixie Conference.
After trailing 13-0 at halftime, St. Thomas rallied in the second half and took a 13-13 tie on a chilly Floirda night as temps dipped under 50 degrees. The Tampa Times’ Jan. 2 game recap read like this:
“The spunky Tommies of St. Thomas College and the Vikings of Missouri Valley, Marshall, Mo., were en route home today after playing to a 13-13 hat-grabbing tie… before about 9,000 shivering fans.”
UST had a 14-6 advantage in first downs and outgained Missouri Vallley 216-173 yards, and held the Viking to no pass completions. The Toms had three turnovers to one for the Vikings. The Tampa Times story noted that Jack “Salty” Salscheider “ran away with just about everything except a deed to the University of Tampa field.”
The only other upper Midwest team to make the trek to Tampa for the Cigar Bowl was Wisconsin-LaCrosse, which played in two Cigar Bowls. It would be 30 years until Tampa regained a college bowl game when the Hall of Fame Bowl relocated from Birmingham in December 1986. The bowl was renamed the Outback Bowl in 1995 when Outback Steakhouse became the title sponsor.
College football held 15 bowl games on Jan. 1 following that 1948 season, including the East-West college all-star game in San Francisco. The Cigar was one of five bowl games that day in Florida along with the Orange (Miami), Gator (Jacksonville) and Tangerine (Orlando) plus the Flower (Jacksonville), which was one of two bowls for black colleges (along with Birmingham’s Vulcan Bowl).
Other Jan. 1 bowls that year were the Rose (Pasadena), Sugar (New Orleans), Cotton (Dallas), Delta (Memphis), Dixie (Birmingham), Sun (El Paso), Harbor (San Diego), Salad (Phoenix), Raisin (Fresno), Prairie (Houston), Ice (Fairbanks), Pineapple (Honolulu) and Lily. There also was a semipro Tobacco Bowl and the high-school Peanut Bowl played that day.
Among the quirks of the Cigar Bowl: As part of the festivities, Tampa’s cigar manufacturers handed out boxes of cigars to visitors from Missouri and Minnesota. Game tickets were sold at Walgreens, with most priced at $4.80, $3.60 and $2.40.
There are interviews, photos and actual Cigar Bowl game film in a UST-produced video that can be seen in the new Hall of Fame kiosk (second floor, west end) of the new Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex.