Redbox Bowl to be Canceled for 2021 College Football Season
Samuel Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: A Redbox Bowl end zone pylon.
This year’s Redbox Bowl, which was set to feature teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12, has been canceled, sources told The Action Network.
The Pac-12’s sixth selection and Big Ten’s seventh selection were scheduled to play in the Redbox Bowl. The cancellation reduces the number of bowl games this year to 41, not including the College Football Playoff championship.
More importantly, though, it likely will create a domino effect impacting the smaller Group of Five conference bowls, sources said. The reason is the Big Ten and Pac-12 are “expected to figure how to keep their leagues ‘whole,’ and not lose those bowl bids,” an industry source said.
Without the Redbox Bowl and excluding any playoff teams or teams in a New Year’s Six bowl, the Big Ten will have only seven bowl tie-ins and the Pac-12 six.
By trying to replace the Redbox Bowl bids, the Big Ten and Pac-12 likely would approach ESPN — which owns 16 bowl games — and work a deal to guarantee a Big Ten vs. Pac-12 matchup in an ESPN bowl, a source said.
By doing so, though, it would displace current conference bowl tie-ins — meaning two Group of Five conferences would receive one fewer bowl bid than contractually guaranteed if there are 82 bowl-eligible teams to fill all 41 bowls.
The Redbox Bowl hopes to return next season, a source said.
The bowl’s demise was not surprising after it was unable to secure a national television partner to broadcast this year’s game. Also, last season the San Francisco 49ers ended their partnership with the bowl. This year’s game was tentatively scheduled to be played at the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park after playing the previous six years at the 49ers’ Levi’s Stadium.
Last year, the Redbox Bowl was the first bowl canceled because of the pandemic, and in part, because it didn’t have a stadium to play in.