CELEBRATING COLLEGE FOOTBALL’S
As college football celebrates its 150th anniversary this season,
you’d be remiss to not reflect on all of the players, coaches,
games and traditions that have left their mark on the sport and
helped it evolve to where it is today.
And you can’t discuss some of college football’s greatest traditions
without acknowledging the legacy of bowl games on the sport.
Like all of the long-standing bowl games, the Chick-fil-A Peach
Bowl has a storied past, steeped in tradition and pageantry, but few may
actually know its story and how it has contributed to college football
during its 52-year history.
After the Peach Bowl began in 1967 as a fund raiser for the Lions Club
of Atlanta, it was played for three years at Georgia Tech’s Grant Field
(now Bobby Dodd Stadium) and then until 1992 at Atlanta-Fulton
County Stadium. Things weren’t always so “peachy” for Atlanta’s
bowl game in the early years though. In both locations, games were
more often than not played in rain, sleet, snow or all of the above.
The teams involved were routinely less than elite.
Flash-forward more than five decades later, and the
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl is now one of six in the College Football
Playoff rotation, landing top-10 matchups year after year. The
organization also hosts the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game to start off each
season with high-profile teams kicking off the year in Mercedes-Benz
Saturday’s College Football Playoff Semifinal game will not be the
first enormous game played in Atlanta’s gem. And it won’t be the
By Matt Winklejohn
last. The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will again host the College Football
Playoff Semifinal in 2022 and 2025.
The Peach Bowl went indoors in 1993, with the arrival of Atlanta’s
Georgia Dome, and has grown steadily since. Since moving to
Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2017 and hosting a College Football
Playoff Semifinal between Alabama and Washington after the
2016 season, and then hosting undefeated UCF vs. Auburn later
in 2017, the game has grown in popularity with tremendous TV
ratings. Over the past three seasons, 39.7 million have tuned in to
the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl across the country, making it a mainstay
during one of the most popular football-viewing portions of the
calendar every year.
More than just providing an exciting on-field product, Peach Bowl, Inc.
has gone out of its way to make giving back a priority. Peach Bowl,
Inc. has donated $53.8 million since 2002 to a variety of charities, the
Lions Club included, and the Bowl is among the most charitable of
all. Peach Bowl, Inc. has routinely sent millions of dollars annually to
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for a variety of programs.
“We go way beyond what happens on the field,” said Peach Bowl
CEO and President Gary Stokan. “We pride ourselves on the creating
of unique experiences for players and fans, and also giving back.”
The Bowl’s stature has grown dramatically under Stokan, who took
over leadership in 1998, and it happened in part because he lost.
In the game’s early years, there was a tradition of having an ACC
team involved. Then, for a 20-year stretch, the game usually featured
an ACC opponent vs. an SEC opponent.
It was just another bowl game. Change came in two waves.
In the old BCS system, a voting committee chose the top eight teams
to be placed in the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Fiesta Bowls, with one
of those bowls on a rotating annual basis hosting the No. 1 and No.
2-ranked teams for what was considered the national championship
The system was tweaked by the governors of college football
(conference commissioners) in 2006 to create a separate
championship game from the four BCS bowls. It would be a fifth
In the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl’s 50th Anniversary, Shaquem Griffin and No. 12
UCF upset No. 7 Auburn, 34-27.
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