Common sense would indicate that if a state has three bowl games within a 260-mile radius, they would be scheduled on three different days, right? For Alabama, that is not the case as all three of the state’s bowl games are on the same day, the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery and the Birmingham Bowl are at the same time.
On Wednesday, 2023’s Bowl schedule released and Yellowhammer State football fans may have been shocked to see all three of their bowl games were placed within seven hours of each other. As mentioned earlier, the Camellia and Birmingham Bowls are both at Noon ET, while the 68 Ventures Mobile Alabama Bowl is the nightcap at 7 ET.
Surprisingly, this is not exactly familiar territory as the Birmingham and Camellia Bowls were both on the same day in 2022, but the Camellia Bowl was at Noon ET and the Birmingham Bowl was at 6:45 ET. Fans could easily watch the Camellia Bowl and then make the 80-minute drive to Birmingham with time to spare.
Of the three bowls, the Birmingham Bowl is the biggest victim. It is old knowledge that ESPN owns the Camellia and Birmingham Bowls so they curate those matchups to create the best TV viewership. For the Birmingham Bowl, this came at the expense of in-person attendance.
Neither Coastal Carolina or East Carolina were within 400 miles of Birmingham and only 15,901 fans filled 45,000-seat Protective Stadium.
The Camellia Bowl also has seen in-person attendance struggle thanks to ESPN’s decisions as the 2020 and 2021 games were in Christmas Day. (I will say that having Christmas Day college football at the Cramton Bowl again after the end of the Blue-Gray Classic was delightful.)
This year, a matchup fine-tuned by ESPN and competition will hurt attendance of the three bowls once again. This move is even more ridiculous when one realizes the three Dallas-Fort Worth area bowls are on three different days.
In the end, while it is understandable that ESPN usually fine tune the games they control, the oversight or blatant lack of care when it comes to the Alabama bowls is unacceptable.