MIAMI — This is the last year for the Midwest Classic Bowl to be sanctioned by the National Junior College Athletic Association.
But there are hopes that this isn’t the last you’ve seen of the game.
It hasn't been re-sanctioned for another three-year cycle because of sponsorship challenges.
“Moving forward, we will continue to evaluate it,” said bowl game director Amanda Davis. “There are some deadlines in place, but given the surprise departure of some of these bowl games at the last minute, the national office is open to looking at things.”
The 2019 game, which will be played Sunday, Dec. 8 at Red Robertson Field, pits No. 7 Butler (Kansas) Community College against No. 15 Trinity Valley (Texas) Community College.
The NJCAA already has lost four games alone this season: the C.H.A.M.P.S. Heart of Texas Bowl in Waco, Texas; the Mississippi Bowl in Perkinston, Mississippi; the Valley of the Sun Bowl in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the El Toro Bowl in Yuma, Arizona.
The two Arizona games were cancelled because community colleges there shut down at the end of the 2018 season.
The HOT and Mississippi bowls had to be called off in October when their major sponsors dropped out.
The Southwest Junior College Football Conference had ties to the HOT Bowl during its 11-year run.
Trinity Valley had played in the game 2002, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.
“I had a really good conference call with the national office about looking ahead,” said Davis, who also is tourism director for the City of Miami and executive director of Visit Miami OK (the convention and visitors bureau). “Right now, we have not sanctioned to continue. We have a few leads that we will be able to look at after the first of the year, work with the city council and maybe come together trying to find a solution to continue.
“The game in Miami has a strong national presence. It’s well respected on all levels.”
If sponsors are secured, there’s a possibility the game could be played in 2020.
“I think that they (NJCAA leadership) also are going back to the drawing board,” Davis said. “I have had conversations about being a part of the discussions moving forward. Some of the schools want to look at a playoff scenario.
“You still have some bowl games that are pretty heavily committed to the national office and they have the financial backing.”
Davis said she has heard from other bowl directors in the past asking about the business template used for the Midwest Classic Bowl.
“It’s a testament to our team at the CVB and the committees,” Davis said. “We have a lot of people that sit around the table that are smart people that get what we do. They (directors at other bowls) are going to have to look at if the financial support is going to continue to be there.
“Not just in our region here, but we’ve seen it in Arizona. We saw it in Mississippi and we saw it in Texas this year. A lot of people that have contributed for a lot of years, those dollars just aren’t available any more. I get it and can understand that.
“Everyone wants to contribute to everything to support their communities.”
This will be the first time Butler and Trinity valley will have met since 2011, when the Grizzlies claimed a 21-17 victory in the Citizen’s Bank Bowl at Pittsburg, Kansas.
It’s also the fourth in five games for Butler.
Trinity Valley won the first meeting 14-13 in 2002 at Butler, but since then the Grizzlies have won 30-22 in 2003, 32-10 in 2004 and 26-17 in 2005.
The teams have combined for eight national championships, six by Butler and two by the Cardinals, who are under the direction of former Golden Norse quarterback and head coach Sherard Poteete.
“We want it to be an elite event,” Davis said. “I know these schools had other offers, but they said ‘if we are your team, we are in. We want to come to Miami.’
“I think the bowl has made a name for itself. It's a little bittersweet right now. Its something we enjoy. It fits right in to what our vision is with tourism, visitor development and what we are doing with sports tourism.”
Tickets are $10 each and are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/d/ok--miami/midwest-classic-bowl/