A pair of holiday traditions will not take place this year after San Diego Bowl Game Association officials announced on Oct. 22 that the board of directors had canceled the 43rd annual San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl and its attendant parade.
The high-profile college football game and parade traditionally take place in late December.
Both events were canceled due to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
“This has been the most difficult decision our board has ever had to make since our bowl game started in 1978,” said Mark Neville, who serves as CEO for the Holiday Bowl. “While it’s not the decision we wanted to make, it’s the right decision for our non-profit association and the community for the long term.
“This decision was particularly difficult because our tourism industry has taken such a hit due to the pandemic. The virus has created a situation in that we wouldn’t be able to welcome fans, ultimately resulting in no tourism. Couple that with the financial and potential health risks of trying to play the game during this pandemic and it was clear this was the right decision for us.”
At the time of the announcement, the Holiday Bowl was the fourth bowl game to be canceled for the upcoming bowl season, joining the Redbox Bowl in Santa Clara, the Hawaii Bowl and the Bahamas Bowl.
On Oct. 30 the Quick Lane Bowl announced its cancelation. The number of canceled bowl games grew to eight on Nov. 20 when the Pinstripe Bowl announced it would not be played this year, joining the Celebration Bowl and Fenway Bowl as per recent announcements.
The Holiday Bowl, known for its high-scoring prowess and dramatic endings, has been an annual staple in Mission Valley and at one time played host to what turned out to be the national championship game in 1984 when top-ranked BYU defeated Michigan, 24-17, to finish 12-0 as the only undefeated team in Division I-A play and earned rights to the national championship title.
The attendance of 61,248 at the game was a record at that time for Jack Murphy Stadium.
San Diego State played in the 1986 Holiday Bowl, dropping a 39-38 decision to the 19th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes.
The largest attendance at the Holiday Bowl came in 2005 when 65,416 fans watched Oklahoma defeat sixth-ranked Oregon 17-14.
However, with the city of San Diego turning over SDCCU Stadium to San Diego State in a ground-breaking sale of prime real estate for the construction of a new stadium, and SDSU subsequently announcing that deconstruction of the existing stadium would start in the early quarter of 2021, the Holiday Bowl found itself without a venue in which to play.
The new Aztec Stadium is not expected to open until 2022 and the school’s football team will play its home games the next two seasons at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.
Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball, could be a potential home for the Holiday Bowl in 2021.
The showstopper parade kicked off the festivities early in the morning on game day and its assortment of big balloons has become a hallmark for the event. The Holiday Bowl also had other community tie-ins, including a 5K walk/run and visits to SeaWorld and San Diego Zoo for players from both participating teams.
The Mountain West Conference, in which SDSU is a member, has tie-ins to four bowl games in 2020-21: the new L.A. Bowl (Dec. 31 at the NFL Rams’ SoFi Stadium), Arizona Bowl (Dec. 31), Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 22) and New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 24).
The MW champion will earn a berth in the L.A. Bowl while the runner-up will play in the Arizona Bowl.
SDSU dropped to 3-3 on the season following losses to Nevada-Reno, 26-21, on Nov. 21 and the University of Colorado, 20-10, last Saturday in a pair of road match-ups.
The Aztecs are 3-2 in conference play with one game remaining — this Saturday against Colorado State in Carson. Kick-off is 4 p.m.
The SDSU offense has taken a shake-up the past few weeks. Helix Charter alumnus Carson Baker was bypassed as the starter for the Nevada game for Mt. Carmel alum Lucas Johnson.
Baker appeared in relief duty in the Nevada game, failing to complete his lone passing attempt. He had four completions for 26 yards against Pac-12 member Colorado (3-0) while rushing three times for five yards.
In six games this season, Baker has completed 56.7 percent of his passes for 617 yards with three touchdowns while also rushing for one touchdown.
Christian High School alumnus Jesse Matthews tops Aztec receivers with 266 yards on 17 receptions.
Helix Charter alum Michael Shawcroft ranks fourth on the team with 28 tackles, including 3.5 for a loss, with two fumble recoveries,
SDSU received its 10 points in last Saturday’s loss on a 57-yard interception return by Darren Hall and a 48-yard field goal by Matt Araiza.
Colorado State is 1-2 on the season.