The Medal of Honor Bowl will convert from a college football all-star game to a traditional bowl game pitting two FBS teams, bowl chairman Tommy McQueeney said Thursday.
The game is tentatively set for Dec. 18, 2016, at The Citadel's Johnson Hagood Stadium, McQueeney said. The all-star game that was scheduled for January 2016 will not take place, he said.
“The traditional bowl avenue makes much more sense to our community because of our standing as a top travel destination in America,” McQueeney said. “A traditional game has more guarantees, better television coverage, a much more exciting format, and the upside of fans who will travel to support their team. We have an opportunity to deliver more to the economy and to our end charities, most notably the Medal of Honor Museum Foundation.”
McQueeney said he is exploring conference affiliations for the bowl game, and plans to meet with representatives from every FBS league. There are 40 bowl games set for the 2015 season; last year, there were 38.
The removal of the Confederate battle flag from Statehouse grounds in Columbia after the Emanuel AME shooting in Charleston opened the door for the switch to a traditional bowl game. After the flag was removed, the NCAA dropped its ban on events at “pre-determined sites” in South Carolina, and the NAACP ended its economic boycott of the state.
McQueeney and others have long sought to host a bowl game in Charleston, dating back to the proposed Palmetto Bowl in 2003. A game called the “Legends Bowl” was proposed in 2013, leading to the Medal of Honor Bowl all-star game.
That game drew 5,135 fans in its debut in 2013, and 12,578 fans last year at Johnson Hagood Stadium.