Montgomery, Little Rock look to host new bowl games

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

Sun Belt teams like ULM have already had success at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium, potential Sun Belt bowl host. (USATSI)
Arkansas-Little Rock has had success at War Memorial Stadium, a potential Sun Belt bowl site. (USATSI)

Much of the follow-up coverage on ESPN's midweek report on new possible bowl locations focused on its most exotic, far-flung possibilities: Dubai, the Bahamas, Ireland. But the organizers who seem best prepared to argue for NCAA approval of new games are much closer to home.

al.com reported Saturday that a group is looking to host the new "Legends Bowl" in Montogmery, Ala., starting in 2014. The game would be played in the new stadium (2011 new) on the campus of FCS Alabama State and would feature teams from the Sun Belt, Conference USA, Mountain West or MAC.

But the Legends Bowl isn't the only potential new postseason game in SEC country. Officials from the MAC and Sun Belt -- including the commissioners of both leagues -- met with the War Memorial Stadium Commission in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The two conferences would play in the "Rice Bowl," a nod to the state's (surprisingly large-scale) rice-farming industry.

Arkansas Little-Rock athletic director Chris Peterson, a key figure in the Rice Bowl project, told the Democrat-Gazette that the bowl is contacting "national TV platforms [to] see who has an interest."

Legends Bowl official Brian Woods told al.com -- in no uncertain terms -- that television issues could prove the difference if only one of the two games comes to fruition. Woods said his game is in active discussions with NBC.

"We feel we might be in direct competition right now with Little Rock," Woods said. "We feel we're ahead of the Orlando group to some capacity and ahead of the Los Angeles group. We'd love to have NBC at least give us a preliminary agreement and get us leverage. That's a big sticking point with Little Rock's efforts."

Whether in the end the college postseason grows by one or both games (or neither), there won't exactly be a seismic shift in the bowl landscape; the Rice Bowl's plan for a Sun Belt-MAC matchup to play little brother to the GoDaddy Bowl's existing Sun Belt-MAC matchup isn't exactly going to shut up the "too many bowls" critics. But they would nonetheless make a huge difference for a MAC or Sun Belt or C-USA team that would otherwise be left out in the bowl cold.

 
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