SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The City Council proclaimed it "San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl 40th Game Day" on Monday in San Diego.
The proclamation issued by council President Myrtle Cole noted that the college football post-season game has generated an economic benefit of nearly $800 million for the San Diego region over the years by attracting out- of-town fans during a slow period for the tourism industry and providing visibility for the region.
She also said the game provides "an incredible fan experience," having attracted some of the brightest playing and coaching stars of past years, such as Oklahoma State running back Barry Sanders; quarterbacks Steve Young and Jim McMahon of Brigham Young; Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers and running back Marshawn Lynch; and head coaches LaVell Edwards of BYU, Mack Brown of Texas and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma.
The bowl was originally planned by local officials to be a showcase for San Diego State, which was repeatedly shut out of the post-season despite posting sterling won-loss records during the 1970s under head coaches Don Coryell and Claude Gilbert. However, the Aztecs program hit the skids soon after the bowl started, and didn't make its first and only appearance until 1986.
The inaugural contest on Dec. 22, 1978, saw Navy defeat BYU 23-16. The Cougars put the bowl in the national consciousness two years later when they scored three touchdowns in the final minutes to upset highly regarded Southern Methodist 46-45 -- in an era when pinball scores weren't as common as today.
The game now matches entrants from the Pac-12 and Big Ten. This year's game between Washington State and Michigan State is scheduled for Dec. 28.
"We really look forward to welcoming thousands and thousands of football fans to our great city in just a couple of weeks," bowl Executive Director Mark Neville said.
He said the match-up is the bowl's first with both teams ranked in the top 20 since 2008, when Oregon outscored Oklahoma State 42-31. This year, the Spartans are 16th and Cougars 18th in the latest college football playoff rankings.