BBVA Compass Bowl
The BBVA Compass Bowl (formerly the Birmingham Bowl or the PapaJohns.com Bowl) is a post-season college football bowl game approved by the NCAA in 2006. The game is played at Legion Field, and matches a Big East Conference team against a representative of the Southeastern Conference.
For its first two years, the bowl matched a team from the Big East or Mid-American Conference with a team from Conference USA. With the NCAA's approval of the bowl's affiliation with the SEC, the league gained a ninth automatic bowl slot for its 12 (now 14) member institutions.
The game is owned and organized by ESPN Regional TV. ESPN named Mark Meadows as executive director, Bo Kerr as manager of sales and marketing and Robbie Robertson as chairman of the executive board for the bowl committee. In September the bowl committee made a $25,000 donation to the Monday Morning Quarterback Club's fundraising efforts on behalf of the Crippled Children's Foundation. PapaJohns.com was announced as title sponsor on November 16, 2006. The company renewed its sponsorship contract in 2008, agreeing to keep its name on the 2008 and 2009 bowl games.
In August 2010 PapaJohns.com elected to focus its efforts on a large NFL marketing contract and not to renew its title sponsorship of the college bowl game. On November 4, 2010, BBVA Compass announced that it was taking over as title sponsor. The next four match-ups carried that name. The bank announced in April 2013 that the 2014 BBVA Compass Bowl would be their last as title sponsor.
The participating conferences are under contract to play in Birmingham through the 2013 season. The 2013 matchup between Ole Miss and Pitt set the attendance record at 59,135.
The 3rd BBVA Compass Bowl was played on Saturday, January 5, 2013. The University of Mississippi Rebels (6-6) defeated the Pitt Panthers (6-6), who made their third consecutive trip to Birmingham. Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel spoke at the bowl luncheon and former player Rich Wingo addressed the FCA breakfast crowd. The Rebels, in their first year under head coach Hugh Freeze, defeated the Panthers 38-17 before a record crowd of 59,135. Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace was game MVP.
The 2nd BBVA Compass bowl was played on Saturday, January 7, 2012, with the SMU Mustangs (7-5) of Conference USA defeating the Pitt Panthers (6-6) of the Big East by a score of 28-6. Southern Methodist rolled to a 21-0 first quarter lead and held on to give coach June Jones his 100th victory. The Mustangs defense allowed Pitt only 10 yards on the ground. The MVP of the game was SMU receiver Darius Johnson who had seven catches for 120 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown strike. SMU freshman running back Jared Williams suffered a fractured leg in the fourth quarter.
Both schools are changing conferences in 2012, with Pitt moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference and SMU to the Big East. The matchup was given some extra intrigue from Arizona State University, which had hired Jones to fill their head coaching vacancy before rescinding their offer and giving it to Pitt coach Todd Graham. The panthers were coached in the game by former defensive coordinator Keith Patterson.
The announced attendance for the game was 29,726, with both schools returning a large portion of their 10,000-seat allotments and free passes handed out to local schools, scout groups, and veterans.
Former Florida State University football coach Bobby Bowden delivered the keynote at the FCA breakfast on Thursday January 5, after which the teams toured Children's Hospital and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. In the evening, the teams were treated to a performance by Roy Wood, Jr at the Comedy Club Stardome. On Friday January 6 Vince Papal delivered the keynote for the Monday Morning Quarterback Club luncheon. The street festival and pep rally that afternoon featured country singer David Nail. After the pep rally the teams were treated to Dreamland BBQ and bowling at Vestavia Bowl.
The 1st BBVA Compass Bowl was played on Saturday, January 8, 2011 with the Pitt Panthers (8-5) of the Big East defeating the Kentucky Wildcats (6-7) of the Southeastern Conference. Kentucky opened the scoring in the first quarter with a bowl-record 50-yard field goal. Pitt tied it up with a 21-yard field goal early in the 2nd, and scored twice more to go into half-time with a 13-3 lead. Pitt and Kentucky traded touchdowns in the 3rd quarter, but Pitt protected their lead and piled on with a late touchdown in the 4th, for a final score of 27-10.
Ticket prices increased from $40 to $50, with corner seats dropping from $40 to $30. Payouts for the 2010 game were increased from $900,000 to $1 million for the SEC and from $600,000 to $900,000 for the Big East. The MAC and Sun Belt also had agreements to participate if the primary conferences had no eligible teams. Along with its primary sponsorship in the Birmingham game, BBVA Compass also secured secondary sponsorships for the Texas Bowl in Houston, the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, and the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque.
Former Alabama running back Siran Stacy delivered the keynote at the FCA breakfast on Wednesday January 5. Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden and sports psychologist Kevin Elko spoke at the Monday Morning Quarterback Club luncheon on Friday January 7, where Bowden was awarded the Golden Flake Legend of Birmingham Award. The street festival and pep rally that afternoon featured Groove Daddy and country singer Josh Thompson. North Carolina-based Christian rock band "Building 429" headlined the ESPN Fan Zone outside Legion Field.
The Golden Flake Legend of Birmingham Award was presented to Alabama Crimson Tide football great and Birmingham Steeldogs coach Bobby Humphrey during the Wednesday team luncheon at the Sheraton Birmingham. 1992 Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta delivered the keynote address.
The teams arrived in Birmingham on December 30. The Huskies practiced at Hoover High School and the Gamecocks at Birmingham-Southern College. Both teams visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and made visits to Children's Hospital and the Birmingham VA Medical Center. A bowling and barbecue was held on Thursday evening at the Vestavia Bowl. On Friday afternoon, Papa John's Pizza founder John Schnatter made an appearance at the chain's 1429 11th Avenue South location. A pep rally and street festival took place at Five Points South on Friday evening and the game kicked off at 1:00 Saturday at Legion Field.
The Huskies defeated South Carolina 20-7, led by Andre Dixon's 126 yards rushing on 33 carries in Connecticut's ball-control offense. He was named the game's most valuable player. The Gamecocks' quarterback Stephen Garcia was held to 129 yards passing on 16 of 38 attempts with four sacks.
The official attendance was 45,254. The Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated the economic impact of the game at $18 million, with about 35,000 out-of-town fans (mostly from South Carolina) making the trip to Birmingham.
The third PapaJohns.com Bowl was held Monday, December 29, 2008. Ticket prices increased to $40 for the matchup between the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. North Carolina State, an Atlantic Coast Conference team, received an at-large bid because no eligible Southeastern Conference teams were available.
A pre-game pep rally and street festival was held at Five Points South with music by the Martini Shakers and Just a Few Cats featuring Ruben Studdard. Mayor Larry Langford had the 5 Points circle painted red for the occasion.
Rutgers came from behind to defeat the Wolfpack 29-23. Quarterback Mike Teel led the Scarlet Knights with 319 passing yards, including 2 touchdowns. Teel was named the game's MVP, and Rutgers finished the season 8-5. North Carolina State fell to 6-7. Attendance for the game was 36,387.
In preparation for the second PapaJohns.com Bowl, a parade and street festival, sponsored by merchants, ESPN, and Operation New Birmingham, were held in Five Points South Friday afternoon and evening. The parade marched from Powell Avenue to Five Points up 20th Street South. Other entertainment included live bands at 11th Avenue South and 20th Street and a kids' zone. A pre-game party was held at Legion Field on Saturday morning, attracting roughly 2,000 people.
The game was played at noon on Saturday December 22, 2007 before a crowd of 32,595. The University of Cincinnati defeated Southern Miss by a score of 31-21. Early in the second half the Golden Eagles' punter Britt Barefoot failed to convert a fake punt on 4th and 1. Bearcats receiver Earnest Jackson scored a 29-yard touchdown from a Ben Mauk pass on the next play after the turnover to go ahead 21-7. Southern Miss, which had 205 all-purpose yards from rusher Damion Fletcher, failed to secure an onside kick with 9:37 left, giving Cincinnati a chance to control the clock. 52 of the Bearcats' 78 plays from scrimmage were pass plays. Mauk finished the day 30 for 52 for 334 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions and was named the game's most valuable player.
The game was Jeff Bower's last as coach of the USM Golden Eagles. His overall record at Legion Field is 6-6 with 5 wins over UAB, and 1 over the Alabama Crimson Tide. His first game as head coach at Southern Miss was the 1990 All-American Bowl in which his Brett Favre-led Golden Eagles fell to North Carolina State 31-27.
The Legend of Birmingham Award was presented to Alabama Crimson Tide football great Johnny Musso during the Friday team luncheon at the Sheraton Birmingham. Former Notre Dame and South Carolina head coach Lou Holtz delivered the keynote address.
The first Papa Johns.com Bowl was played at noon on Saturday December 23, 2006. Head coach Jim Leavitt's South Florida Bulls (9-4, 4-3 Big East) defeated Skip Holtz' East Carolina Pirates (7-6, 5-3 C-USA) in the inaugural PapaJohns.com Bowl. South Florida's Benjamin Williams scored twice in the first quarter, leading the Bills to a 24-7 half-time lead and earning MVP honors. The second half was scoreless as USF defended the end zone perfectly after three ECU drives inside the 20. Both starting quarterbacks left the game with mild injuries.
The bowl paid $300,000 to each affiliated conference. Tickets were $30 (or $20 each when buying 4 or more). Early purchasers will be able to renew the same seats for future games. In all, around 41,000 tickets were sold, and the attendance was reported as 28,527. Jim Smither of the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated 6,000 out of town visitors and a $4.1 million economic impact for the event.
Players from the opposing teams made visits to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and 16th Street Baptist Church, enjoyed a night of bowling at Vestavia Bowl and a show at the Comedy Club Stardome in Hoover. Team captains, mascots and cheerleaders visited Children's Hospital while the coaches' families made trips to the McWane Science Center and the Renaissance Ross Bridge Resort & Spa. The Friday team luncheon at the Sheraton Birmingham featured keynote speaker Archie Manning and the presentation of the Legend of Birmingham Award to new Samford head coach Pat Sullivan.
14 people were arrested for disorderly conduct by Birmingham Police at Dave's Pub in Five Points South the night before the game. According to Sergeant Joel Brown most of those arrested were visiting from North Carolina.
 Selected records
- Most points: 31 by Cincinnati (2007)
- Most yards rushing: 217 by Southern Miss (2007)
- Most yards passing: 334 by Cincinnati (2007)
- Most offensive yards: 437 by Rutgers (2008)
- Highest combined score: 52 (twice, 2007 & 2008)
- Longest completed pass: 48 yards, ECU's James Pinkney to Bobby Good (2006)
- Longest rush from scrimmage: 40 yards by USM's Damion Fletcher (2007)
- Most all-purpose yards: 205 by USM's Damion Fletcher (2007)
- Longest kickoff return: 51 yards by NCSU's T. J. Graham (2008)
- Longest field goal: 50 yards by Kentucky's Craig McIntosh (2011)
- Longest punt: 60 yards by ECU's Ryan Dougherty (2006)
- Melick, Ray. (April 28, 2006). "NCAA approves The Birmingham Bowl." The Birmingham News
- Solomon, Jon. (November 15, 2006). "Papa John’s signs on as sponsor of Birmingham Bowl." The Birmingham News
- Solomon, Jon. (December 4, 2006). "Inaugural game dodges inviting .500 team." The Birmingham News
- Solomon, Jon. (December 22, 2006). "Game could be top 10 in area for economic impact." The Birmingham News
- Segrest, Doug and Jon Solomon. (December 22, 2006). "Papajohns.com Bowl notes." The Birmingham News
- Coman, Victoria L. (December 20, 2007). "Parade and street party in works for bowl." The Birmingham News
- Velasco, Eric. (December 23, 2007). "And the Papajohns.com winner is: Birmingham." The Birmingham News
- Solomon, Jon (December 24, 2006). "Cheers for Papajohns.com Bowl." The Birmingham News
- "Some ECU fans arrested." (December 24, 2006). The (Raleigh) News & Observer
- Solomon, Jon (May 1, 2008) "Papajohns.com Bowl plans to serve up SEC-Big East match on Dec. 29." The Birmingham News
- Cooper, Lauren B. (January 8, 2010) "PapaJohns.com bowl game pumped $18M into Birmingham." The Birmingham News
- Solomon, Jon (August 7, 2010) "Papa John's: New NFL strategy, higher ESPN financial demand mean cutting bowl ties." The Birmingham News
- Piper, Ben (November 4, 2010) "BBVA Compass takes over as Birmingham Bowl sponsor." Birmingham Business Journal
- Solomon, Jon (November 5, 2010) "ESPN develops new financial model for BBVA Compass Bowl." The Birmingham News
- Diel, Stan (April 2, 2013) "BBVA Compass to end sponsorship of Birmingham's bowl game." The Birmingham News
 External links
- Birmingham Bowl website