High School National Bowl Games Are On
By Buddy Collings
Read the article and watch the video on Orlando Sentinel
Since 1963, the ultimate prize for high school football teams in Florida has been a state championship.
That is about to change. All signs are go for a historic nationally televised series of prep bowl games pitting several Florida championship teams against title teams from other states this December. And it appears likely that the inaugural event will be played in Florida.
That means that if state title dreams come true for undefeated teams like No. 1 Class 6A Daytona Beach Mainland and Class 8A contenders Dr. Phillips and Lake Mary they could end up being in the running to extend their seasons into a college-style bowl game.
Daytona Beach Mainland and wide receiver Wilfred Taylor have moved into the top spot in the Sentinel's Super 16.
(photo by Stephen M. Dowell, Orlando Sentinel)
“This is the absolute first I’ve heard of it, but it sounds like it would be a great deal,” DP coach Rodney Wells said on Tuesday. “As coaches you can’t look too far ahead. But if everything aligned right that would be an awesome opportunity.”
The Florida High School Athletic Association’s board of directors will be asked at its Monday meeting to give final approval to a State Champions Bowl Series proposal it endorsed in June.
The games are set to played Saturday, Dec. 27 – two weeks after the last of Florida’s eight state finals are played at Orlando’s Florida Citrus Bowl.
“It looks very, very positive that this is going to move forward,” FHSAA executive director Roger Dearing said on Tuesday morning. “There are at least two other states that are highly interested in participating.”
The FHSAA was the first major state association to send teams to a boys and girls basketball national high school invitational put on by Paragon Marketing Group and the ESPN TV networks, and was the first to endorse the football concept formulated by Paragon.
A letter sent to Dearing states that Paragon “anticipates there will be one to three games.” It is specific in stating that the bowl series is not a national tournament and that teams will play one game.
The tentative schedule calls for games at noon, 4 and 7 p.m., all televised by ESPNU.
“We have asked to host in Florida,” Dearing said. “Paragon is working on a site.”
Orlando is not a venue being considered for the high school series because of conflicts with college football games at the Citrus Bowl.
State associations in Washington and Utah allowed basketball championship teams to participate in the Dick's Sporting Goods National High School Invitational, orchestrated by Paragon, last April.
Paragon, which is based outside Chicago and has a long history of packaging sports events for ESPN, will select teams to be invited based in large part on national rankings. Dearing said the FHSAA will hold a first right of refusal on those decisions.
The agreement stipulates that participating schools will have all travel and hotel expenses paid and receive either a $12,500 appearance fee; $25,000 in merchandise from an athletic shoe, apparel or sporting goods company; or a prorated combination of cash and merchandise. The choice of rights fee payment will be made by Paragon.
The FHSAA is guaranteed $10,000 for its approval of the program and will get an additional $40,000 if one or more of its member schools is selected and participates.
Participation would not be mandatory for teams invited.