Officials contemplate status of Bahamas Bowl

The Bahamas Bowl has become a staple on the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I football bowl calendar, and locally, for the past six years, but this year may be a little different, as ESPN Events, the owner of the bowl game, evaluates the next steps, as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bowl game is held during Christmastime. One team, each from the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and Conference-USA (C-USA), go up against each other for the coveted Prime Minister’s Trophy.

An ESPN spokesperson said in a statement: “ESPN Events continues to evaluate the next steps for our owned and operated events as conferences make decisions on their seasons.”

If held this December, organizers may be forced to pit two C-USA teams against each other as the MAC has postponed its fall sports to the spring of 2021. More information will be released as the date gets closer.

The MAC announced back on August 8, that it has postponed all of its fall sports to the spring semester as they traverse uncharted waters.

“I am announcing that by a unanimous vote of the Mid-American Conference’s Council of Presidents meeting earlier today, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic across the United States and around the world and its effect on student-athletes, the conference will postpone the fall seasons in the sports of men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s soccer, and women’s volleyball. It is the intention of the membership to provide competitive opportunities for the student-athletes in these sports during the spring semester of 2021,” MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher said in a statement.

On the other hand, C-USA decided to go ahead with its football season this fall as planned. Their season gets underway on Thursday September 3, with a double-header as the University of Central Arkansas go up against the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) followed by the University of South Alabama battling Southern Mississippi.

In last year’s Bahamas Bowl game, the University of Buffalo Bulls from the MAC took down the C-USA’s University of Charlotte 49ers, 31-9, to run away with the Prime Minister’s Trophy. That win evened the series between the conferences to 3-3 in the Bahamas Bowl.

That game kicked off the NCAA bowl season last year.

The Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers won the inaugural Bahamas Bowl game in dramatic fashion back in 2014. They edged out the Central Michigan University Chippewas, 49-48, in a high scoring affair. That win gave the MAC a win over C-USA. Central Michigan executed a 75-yard, three-lateral touchdown play as time expired, but failed to convert the two-point conversion, and the Hilltoppers escaped with the win. That final play was a finalist for the 2015 ESPY Best Play Award.

The two teams that are invited to the bowl game also host a youth clinic sponsored by KFC as the players interact with local youth players, going through various football drills.

Since its inception, the Bahamas Bowl has 26 alumni being drafted in the last six National Football League (NFL) drafts. Three of those players were selected in the 2020 NFL Draft. University of Central Michigan’s nose tackle Leterrius Walton was the first bowl alumnus to be selected in the NFL Draft back in 2015.

The Bahamas Bowl is the first NCAA bowl game to be staged outside of the United States of America (USA) and Canada since 1937.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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