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JSB Exclusive: Our interview with the brand new EagleBank Bowl

An interview with Marie Rudolph, one of the two founding fathers of the brand new EagleBank Bowl

SCOTT JACOBS

After it was announced that Washington, D.C. and Tampa Bay would be awarded two new bowl games for the 2008 college football season, the good folks at Juiced Sports got curious, and began snooping around. We decided that enough was enough. Rather than bash these crazy number of bowl games, why not find out how the other side thinks: the people behind these bowl games. Maybe they had a logical explanation for why the ACC needs nine teams selected for bowl games, or if this bowl bonanza would ever end. So we tracked down the EagleBank Bowl, the first bowl game ever in Washington D.C. and asked them some questions. Not surprisngly they were very safe in their answers. But their perspective was rather interesting. We present to you the interview in its entirety. You can come to your own conclusions. Comments much appreciated.

Juiced Sports Blog: How does the bowl process work? How does a bowl game get started. Who provides the money? How does the NCAA decide whose bowl game should be sanctioned and whose shouldn’t?

Marie Rudolph: There’s a process by which the NCAA reviews prospective cities holding bowl games. You need a two million dollar letter of credit in addition to other things. You need a stadium (a place to play the game). There are minimum requirements: the NCAA would not let a high school stadium host a bowl game.

JSB: Originally Washington D.C.’s first bowl game was to be called the Congressional Bowl. Now, it’s the EagleBank Bowl. How does a sponsorship come about? Does the bowl game go to the sponsor? Does the sponsor submit a proposal to the bowl game?

MR: It happens both ways. It really happens either way. In our instance we were actively seeking sponsors. We have individuals who are seeking sponsors on behalf of the bowl game. EagleBank was one that came to the bowl game and we proceeded that way.

JSB: The way the EagleBank bowl is set up, is for Navy (If they win 6 games, which it looks like they will) to play the ninth selected team from the ACC. A couple questions: First, how did the EagleBank Bowl committee decide on conference affiliations for the game, and second, how long does it take for these affiliations to be approved?

MR: The approval of who plays in the game is done at the same time as when the NCAA considers the bowl application. The ACC tie in made a lot of sense because we are almost right in the middle of the geographic footprint of the ACC.

“As long as teams are bowl eligible there will hopefully be a bowl to host them”

JSB: Many people have asked: why does the ACC’s ninth selected team (in a 12 team conference) deserve a spot in a bowl game? They argue that these bowl games are rewarding mediocrity. What would the EagleBank Bowl say to that?

MR: I would look at it a different way. The university, their team, their fans appreciate the opportunity to play in these post-season games. The economic benefits to the communities where the bowl games are held are substantial. However, I understand those fans that hold the opinion that you shared, but for us we think of it in a different way.

JSB: Do you think this trend of adding new bowl games practically every year will end any time soon? Or, looking down the line, will there be 60 bowls in ten years? Where will it end?

MR: Well, I’m not in a position to speculate what the NCAA will do. As long as teams are bowl eligible there will hopefully be a bowl to host them.

JSB: This question gets thrown around a lot: Why isn’t there a playoff system? As a member of the Bowl Committee for D.C. would you guys support a playoff system or would that end the current bowl system as we know it?

MR: To be honest I wouldn’t want to speculate on that right now. We’re focused exclusively on our inaugural bowl game and I don’t want to speculate on that right now.

JSB: The game is set to be played December 20th at RFK Stadium. Why RFK? And how does a date get picked for the games. They seem to change every year.

MR: The date for our game really came down to this being our inaugural year. There are some real benefits to being the first game of the bowl season. After the conference championships there is a lull before the bowl games begin. I think college football fans are excited for the bowl season to begin, so the first bowl of the bowl season reaps the benefit of college football fans ready for some more football.

{As far as RFK versus Nationals Park} We looked at both venues, but for this year we decided that RFK was the best fit. Certainly the tradition of RFK helped us in making the decision to play there.

JSB: Watching bowl games in years past there are usually a lot of empty seats at some of the earlier bowls. As someone who is apart of the inaugural EagleBank Bowl, how do you make sure that doesn’t happen to your bowl?

MR: We’re excited about the inaugural game in Washington D.C., as you know it will be the first bowl to ever be held here. We believe our city is a great sports town. We’re excited to bring another event on an annual basis. We’re confident Navy (if they win six games) will bring their very loyal fan base into the city and into the game.

JSB: How much time was put into pursuing a bowl game for our Nation’s capitol?

MR: Shawn and I first came to the decision that we wanted to at least pursue the opportunity in December 2006. There is an actual application that must be filled out, and that is in what large part what the NCAA reviews, and there is an in-person presentation as well.

JSB: Reportedly about 1.6 million fans attended last season’s bowl games, and about $222 million in revenue from those games was distributed to the participating teams and conferences. How much money will teams participating (and their conferences) receive from playing in the EagleBank Bowl, and how much revenue does D.C. hope to bring in from the game?

MR: On the revenue side there are so many extenuating circumstances. Rather than focusing on the revenue we bring in, we’re excited about our two charities, Positive Choices and the Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation. In addition to our two charitable organizations we also plan to offer charitable funds to the women’s athletic departments of the two universities that play in our game.

JSB: Any other final thoughts?

MR: We’re very very excited to host this game, and we hope the fans will come out and support our game.


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2 Responses to “JSB Exclusive: Our interview with the brand new EagleBank Bowl”

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