During its 14 years, the All American Bowl was able to attract such football teams as Minnesota, Texas A&M, Missouri, Arkansas, Air Force, Michigan State, Florida State and Illinois.
Now the bowl has called it quits, a victim of competition and stricter NCAA requirements, with its sponsors redirecting their efforts to try to persuade the Southeastern Conference to play its championship game in 76,000-seat Legion Field, which is getting a major facelift.In the final All American Bowl last Dec. 28, North Carolina State defeated Southern Mississippi 31-27.
Because of the number of postseason bowls, "getting quality teams is getting harder, and paying them is harder," All American Bowl president Pete Clemens said Tuesday. "There is a glut of bowl games."
He said that directors of the Birmingham Football Foundation decided to drop the bowl because of more stringent NCAA rules. Starting this year, a bowl team must have at least six victories against NCAA Division I-A opponents, instead of merely six victories.
The NCAA also has increased the minimum from $600,000 for each team to $650,000 in 1991 with $50,000 increases in 1992 and 1993.
"The All American Bowl was great for the city, but we're looking forward to something greater," said its executive director, Jim Simmons.
Clemens said the foundation and other city groups are applying to the SEC for the right to hold its title game, which begins in 1992. The SEC presidents are to decide on a site four to six weeks after the Feb. 18 application deadline.
With the addition of Arkansas and South Carolina to the conference, the SEC will be divided into two divisions, starting next year in basketball and the year after in football. The football division winners will then meet to decide the conference championship.
"There is fierce competition among several cities to become home of the championship game," said Fred Renneker III, chairman of the Birmingham Football Foundation.
Other cities seeking the game include Tampa, Orlando and Miami in Florida; Memphis, Tenn.; Atlanta and New Orleans.
"Birmingham is proud to be the home of the SEC, and I'm here to deliver a message to the officials and athletes of the Southeastern Conference: We want you in Birmingham, and you're going to love it here," Renneker said.
The chairman of the Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce, Eddie Friend, said that group will help in the "full-court press soon to be under way to convince" the SEC to put its title game in Legion Field.
Clemens said that in courting the SEC for the game, he and others will cite Birmingham's central location in the conference, the remodeling of Legion Field and the idea that coordination will be easier because the SEC headquarters are here.
The foundation officers also said they will campaign to bring to Birmingham some spillover from the 1996 Summer Olympics to be held in Atlanta, about 150 miles to the east.