Last year, the 2020 Redbox Bowl was the first to be canceled due to COVID-19 and location concerns. Now, the game will not return this fall either, according to a report by college football insider Brett McMurphy.
The game has been around since 2002, beginning as the San Francisco Bowl at AT&T Park in San Francisco. It would shift names pretty frequently, and was known as the Diamond Walnut San Francisco Bowl, Emerald Bowl, and Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, before becoming the Foster Farms bowl in 2014, when it moved to new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Redbox took over as the title sponsor in 2018.
While not among the most prominent bowl games on the annual slate, it does pit two power conferences against one another: the Big Ten and Pac-12. The game hopes to return in 2022, but failed to retain a television partner, leading to issues as the 2021-22 college football season is now underway.
“The bowl’s demise was not surprising after it was unable to secure a national television partner to broadcast this year’s game. Also, last season the San Francisco 49ers ended their partnership with the bowl,” McMurphy reports for the Action Network. “This year’s game was tentatively scheduled to be played at the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park after playing the previous six years at the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium.”
This year’s Redbox Bowl b/w Big Ten & Pac-12 has been canceled, sources told @ActionNetworkHQ. There remains 41 bowls (excluding @CFBPlayoff title game) but this means two Group of 5 teams may be replaced in the bowls by a Big Ten & Pac-12 team source said https://t.co/Jypahbm1Xs
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) September 8, 2021
The game was set to pit the No. 6 Pac-12 and No. 7 Big Ten teams against one another. The cancellation threatens to have a major impact on the lower-tier bowls, and could keep small conference bowl eligible college football teams out of games, McMurphy reports.
“By trying to replace the Redbox Bowl bids, the Big Ten and Pac-12 likely would approach ESPN — which owns 16 bowl games — and work a deal to guarantee a Big Ten vs. Pac-12 matchup in an ESPN bowl, a source said.
“By doing so, though, it would displace current conference bowl tie-ins — meaning two Group of Five conferences would receive one fewer bowl bid than contractually guaranteed if there are 82 bowl-eligible teams to fill all 41 bowls.”
The last Redbox Bowl, at the end of the 2019 season, featured nearby Cal beating Illinois, 35-20.
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