The Holiday Bowl initially was conceived to annually feature the Western Athletic Conference champion against a nationally-ranked opponent. The WAC champion served as automatic host team in the Bowl from 1978 through 1994. From the game's inception through 1990, the Bowl matched the WAC champion against an at-large team. In 1991, the Bowl reached an agreement to have the Big Ten third selection play the WAC champion.
In 1995, an agreement was reached between the Holiday Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Pac-10, Big 12 and WAC. The Pac-10 runner-up or WAC champion would play in either the Holiday or Cotton Bowl and the Big 12 third selection would play in the Holiday Bowl.
After the breakup of the WAC in 1997, the Holiday Bowl signed agreements with the Pac-10 (now the Pac-12) and Big 12 conferences. Currently, the third selection from the Pac-12 serves as the game's anchor team to oppose the fifth selection from the Big 12.
Beginning in 2014, the Holiday Bowl will begin a new era of conference partnerships, as the bowl will feature a matchup between top-tier teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12 Conferences.
From that first kickoff on December 22, 1978, the Holiday Bowl has been a financial success. In its first year, the Holiday Bowl paid out a modest $218,645 to Navy and BYU. In 2010, Nebraska and Washington received a combined $4.15 million.
Since the Holiday Bowl was inaugurated in 1978, it has played to more than 90% of capacity. Of the 35 games, 17 had victory margins of one touchdown or less and the outcome of 20 games was decided in the final four minutes, earning the Holiday Bowl a well-deserved reputation as one of the most entertaining games of the post-season schedule.
The game also serves as an annual economic boon to the San Diego Community. The 35th annual Holiday Bowl, which featured the Baylor Bears and UCLA Bruins, generated $20.5 million in economic impact. Click here to read a full recap of the 2012 Holiday Bowl.
The San Diego Bowl Game Association is a non-profit organization and has a mission of generating tourism, exposure, economic benefit and civic pride for San Diego and its citizens by producing the nation's most exciting bowl games and festival of events.