Fiesta Bowl History
The first playing of the Fiesta Bowl was not until 1971, much later than the other BCS bowl games. The Bowl was formed mostly the Western Athletic Conference. During the late 1960’s teams from the conference did not receive many bids to play in major bowls, so the conference created its own bowl game. The game was not initially played on New Years Day, but the game slowly attracted more top ten teams each year. Eventually the game became prestigious enough to be moved to the first of the year with the other major bowl games. In 1986 the Fiesta Bowl hosted the two highest ranked teams in the country, Penn State and Miami. Although it was not called a championship game, this was the first time that the Fiesta Bowl determined the college football champion. In 2009 reports surfaced that Fiesta Bowl employees were encouraged to make campaign donations to politicians who support the bowl. Two years later the bowl conducted a second internal investigation of the allegations and found that bowl employees had made about $45,000 of illegal campaign contributions. The donations violated both state and federal laws about campaign finance and broke laws regarding the bowls non-profit status. The Fiesta Bowl board fired CEO John Junker and replaced him with University of Arizona President Robert Shelton. After the scandal the BCS decided to keep the Fiesta bowl as one of the major bowl games and to fine the organization one million dollars. The Fiesta Bowl also has positive history including being the first bowl to host a non-BCS conference team and one of the most exciting college football games ever played in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
Fiesta Bowl Participants and Qualifications
The bowl was created to grant an automatic bid to the champion of the Western Athletic Conference. In 1978 two of the major Western Athletic Conference teams left for the Pac-10, which ended any automatic bids affiliated with the Fiesta Bowl. The game continued to select both of its participants until 1995. With the demise of the Southwestern Conference the Cotton Bowl lost its prestigious status. The Fiesta Bowl picked up the slack by hosting the Big-12 champion along with another top team. While the Big-12 has shifted its teams, it still has a tie-in with the Fiesta Bowl.
Fiesta Bowl Location
The first Fiesta Bowls were played in Tempe, Arizona. Games were held in Sun Devil Stadium, on Arizona State’s campus. In 2007 the game was moved down the highway to Glendale, Arizona, the location of the University of Phoenix Stadium. This is the current site of the Fiesta Bowl, the Arizona Cardinals, and many other events. In 1991 many teams declined to play in the Fiesta Bowl due to the state of Arizona’s failure to recognize the Martin Luther King Holiday. This is the only time in the game’s history where the location determined the participants in the game.
Fiesta Bowl Betting
The Fiesta Bowl financial scandal was not the only time money changed hands because of the game. Being a BCS game, the Fiesta Bowl is gambled upon heavily every year. The Big-12 is the only conference tied-in to the Fiesta Bowl, so the strength of that conference must be compared to that of the opponent conference before a bet is placed. The Big-12 has a reputation of being one of the strongest BCS conferences and therefore often sends a very worthy team to the game. Like other bowl games, the Fiesta Bowl is held near many Big-12 teams, which may lend another advantage to that conference’s representative. Most of the factors involved in placing a bet involve the teams themselves but a general understanding of the game itself is very helpful.