I moved here 20 years ago, so I missed the worst chamber of commerce disasters involving weather and the Peach Bowl and Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. (Missed the 1988 season game when North Carolina State and Iowa combined for 14 turnovers and it rained so hard and for so long that former AJC staff writer Gary Pomerantz mused that the crowd of 44,635 (or not) “gasped like blowfish.”
Most assumed things would get better when the Peach Bowl was moved indoors to the climate-controlled Georgia Dome in 1992. But to this extent?
The Peach Bowl gave way to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and its current incarnation might be the greatest remainder of what the college bowl season used to be about: Good teams. Intriguing match-ups. Happy and content fans who viewed college football’s post-season as a reward, not an aggravating and illogical exercise in futility (read: BCS).
It helps that the Chick-fil-A Bowl has tie-ins with the SEC and ACC. It helps that the game has a roof to protect it from miserable weather days like today. It helps that fan bases from around the South love to come to Atlanta.
But none of that guarantees great match-ups.
Though the final scores haven’t always backed up the expectation of competitive games — as Georgia Tech would prefer to forget — the game has had great curb appeal. Just look at the last seven years: Clemson-Tennessee, Florida-Miami, LSU-Miami, Georgia-Virginia Tech, Auburn-Clemson, LSU-Georgia Tech and tonight: Virginia Tech-Tennessee.
I’ve seen the economic impact reports and claims that this game brings $33 million into the area. Honestly, I don’t hang out with economists and I have no idea what those numbers mean. But seeing “Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee” provides enough clarity.
Virginia Tech (9-3) is ranked 11th in the BCS standings. The Hokies would be a lot higher if they could figure out how to win a game in Atlanta. They lost their season opener to Alabama in the Georgia Dome, won their next five, then lost at Georgia Tech.
Tennessee (7-5) is looking for its first bowl win under Lane Kiffin. This game is a bonus for him, win or lose, since he spent most of the buildup to this season as a punchline and the NCAA is investigation potential recruiting violations.
I can probably figure out who Georgia fans are pulling for.
Anyway, I’ll be here live blogging during game, so let me know what you think.
Oy. They’re playing Rocky Top. I’m outta here.