The mission of the LendingTree Bowl is to showcase the city of Mobile, advance tourism and economic impact, provide educational and athletic opportunities to the youth of Mobile, while providing a cultural and exceptional bowl experience to collegiate student-athletes, administrators and fans.
All great things begin with a degree of daydreaming. A simple idea soon becomes a constant thought. Then, when mentioned in random conversation, the idea explodes into action.
Stan Tiner, former editor of the Mobile Register, is the man who first uttered the “What if” scenario in reference to the bowl game being played today. Tiner, a long-time supporter of sports in Mobile, discussed the possibilities of an NCAA-sanctioned bowl game with Mobile Mayor Mike Dow for the first time in 1998, and Dow immediately saw the possibilities.
With phrases such as economic impact, national exposure and hotel occupancy dancing in their heads, Tiner and Dow looked within the city for help and approached the former head coach of the University of Pittsburgh and longtime resident of the Port City, Mike Gottfried, for leadership and direction.
Gottfried, using his contacts as a former head coach and college football analyst for ESPN, as well as his established friendships within college athletics circles, assessed the city’s efforts and began to build support for attracting a bowl game in Mobile. Almost immediately, the City of Mobile and mayor got behind the project.
Preliminary inquiries were encouraging and as the process continued, positive vibes continued. At each step, the NCAA asked that certain criteria be met and each time the city and Gottfried met those criteria.
In less than a year, NCAA certification was approved, making Tiner’s idea of a bowl game in Mobile, Alabama a reality.
The bowl game was originally known as the Mobile Alabama Bowl (1999). From 2000-2010 it was named after title sponsor GMAC Financial Services and became the GMAC Bowl. From 2011 through 2015 GoDaddy became the title sponsor. In 2016, Dollar General became the title sponsor. In 2019, LendingTree became the new title sponsor. The game matches teams from the Sun Belt Conference and the Mid-American Conference.