The inaugural Freedom Bowl was organized in just four months, besieged by controversy surrounding its team-selection process and made its debut in a downpour in front of a disappointing crowd of 24,093.
None of this seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of bowl director Tom Starr, who ended up attracting Texas and Iowa and the biggest television audience of any bowl not on a network.
Wednesday, during a news conference at Anaheim Stadium, Starr was still smiling as he announced the second Freedom Bowl would be televised by Lorimar Sports Network, a subsidiary of Lorimar Productions, the company that produces "Dallas," "Falcon Crest," and "Knot's Landing."
"Lorimar is fast becoming one of the top independent producers of sports events and we're confident the coverage will be first-class," Starr said. "Their selection had nothing to do with the fact they promised me a date with Victoria Principal."
Terms of the one-year contract were not disclosed. Keith Samples, executive director for the Dallas-based firm which has recently acquired the rights to the Bluebonnet Bowl and also produces Southeast Conference basketball, did reveal that the game, scheduled for 5 p.m. (PST) on Dec. 30, will be blacked out locally.
"We think this bowl has a terrific future," Samples said. "That (the blackout) was a concession on our part, but we understand the need to fill the stands and that it's best for everyone in the long run. We have a one-year contract, but both sides have a commitment to the future. The networks have shown interest so the Freedom Bowl committee wants flexibility and we respect that.
"But we have the resources of the corporation . . . my job is not to be a corporate profit center. So our production will be very, very good."
It's been a big week for Starr. The Freedom Bowl was re-sanctioned by the NCAA, the new date (last year's game was played on Dec. 26) was approved, a Newport Beach advertising agency has been named to handle public relations and a marketing company has been retained to promote corporate sponsorship and group ticket sales.
"The change from Dec. 26 to Dec. 30 is really important," Starr said. "The time so close to Christmas is a killer. People with young children, for example, just won't come. And the closer you are to New Year's, the more prestige you have with the big universities.
"We're on our way to becoming one of the finest bowl games in the nation."