The Birmingham Bowl, which was formerly named the Papajohns.com Bowl and the BBVA Compass Bowl, was sanctioned as a college bowl game by the NCAA in April 2006. The first game was played on December 23, 2006 as the South Florida Bulls, representing the Big East, played the East Carolina Pirates from Conference USA. The Bulls won that contest handily 24- 7.
This post-season game is played at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. The conference connections are to the Big East and the SEC with the Sun Belt Conference being the primary alternate. The bowl features the Southeastern Conference’s ninth bowl-eligible club and a representative from the Big East. A bowl eligible team from the Sun Belt Conference can take the place of either league if one cannot fulfill their obligation. The payout to each team is $300,000.
This is not the first time that a college football bowl game has called Birmingham home. From 1947- 1948, the Dixie Bowl was held in that city. The Hall of Fame Classic, which is now held in Tampa, Florida, as the Outback Bowl, was played in Birmingham from 1977- 1985 and the All-American Bowl was held from 1986- 1990.
The BBVA Compass Bowl is owned and managed by ESPN Regional Television, which is a subsidiary of ESPN. It is one of six bowl games owned by ESPN, with the others being the New Mexico Bowl, Beef O Brady's Bowl, MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, and Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. ESPN Regional Television oversees all aspects of this event and is assisted by and partnered with the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
On November 16, 2006, Papa John's Pizza entered into a multi-year contract to sponsor the game, which is carried on ESPN. The post-season event has been held in December each of the first three years, but in 2009, the bowl game became one of five being played on January 2, 2010. The other bowl games held on that day are the Cotton Bowl Classic, Alamo, and Liberty. Papa John's declined to renew the sponsorship in 2010 and the name of the game reverted to the Birmingham Bowl. BBVA Compass Bank picked up the naming rights in November 2010.
BBVA Compass Bowl team records include most points scored (31), most passing yards (334) and most touchdown passes (4) by Cincinnati in 2007. In that same game, Southern Mississippi set the mark for most rushing yards (217), most rushing attempts (49) and fewest passing yards (122). Twice in the game’s history 52 total points have been scored. The first time was in 2007 when Cincinnati scored 31 and Southern Mississippi notched 21. The second was in 2008, as Rutgers earned 29 points and NC State put 23 on the board.
The fewest points allowed were seven by the University of South Florida. That record was set against East Carolina in 2006. There has never been a shutout or a tie in the BBVA Compass Bowl. In the 2006 contest, East Carolina set the mark for most fumbles lost at two. Two quarterbacks are tied for most picks thrown in one game. They are Cincinnati’s Ben Mauk and Southern Mississippi’s Jeremy Young at three each. The records were set in the same game, the 2007 PapaJohns.com Bowl. The record for most rushing yards stands at 155 by Southern Miss running back Damion Fletcher and most passing yards, 334, and completions, 30, by Mauk of Cincinnati. Once again, both records were established in the 2007 game.
The BBVA Compass Bowl offers fans a venue where they can see two highly competitive college teams from two major conferences play topnotch post-season football. It’s an event that’s quickly become known for high scoring offenses and tough head-to-head competition.