The oldest of all the college all-star games is the East-West Shrine Game (since 1925) which just completed its 89th year. The second oldest game is the Senior Bowl (since 1947), which completed its 56th game in 2014.
The production of all-star games is often a labor of love as sources have told us the games rarely make money and are financially difficult to maintain. Outside of the Senior Bowl and the East-West Shrine Game, there have been plenty of other games that have come and gone such as the Hula Bowl, which ran from 1947-2008.
The Blue-Gray Classic was a fan favorite as it was played around Christmas time and featured small school players and those from non-bowl bound teams. It was played from 1935-2001 and then again in 2003.
After the Blue-Gray game went defunct the Las Vegas All-American Classic appeared to be headed in the direction of replacing it. It was active from 2002-2006 before going down. The game was founded by Dary Alton who also started the North-South Classic and Magnolia Gridiron Classic.
There have been several other notable mentions like the Texas vs. Nation Game, Inta-Juice All-Star Classic (one year), Inta Juice All-Star Classic (one year), Las Vegas All-American Classic (2002-2006), Florida Gridiron Classic, Players All-Star Classic, and most recently the College All-Star Bowl (2013-2014) and the Raycom All-Star Classic (2013).
The landscape has certainly changed and with four major games lasting so long but seeing two of them go defunct and over a dozen others making appearances. When any new all-star game pops up, agents and players have been slow to commit to the roster until it proves itself.
The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl completed its third year in January of 2014. Since the East-West Shrine Game was formed it has been passed by the Senior Bowl and with a declining number of draft picks recently the newer NFLPA Collegiate Bowl has made significant strides.
Agents, players, and fans now have three stable games and possibly a fourth that will last a long time as well. The Medal of Honor Bowl was formed last year and has taken in much of the man power from the College All-Star Bowl to give South Carolina a beautiful game in Charleston that will be a good fourth option for agents, players, and NFL teams.
This past year the Shrine Game had 97 players in camps while the 3rd year NFLPA Bowl had 90 with 36 draft picks by the Shrine and 14 by the NFLPA Bowl while the Senior Bowl led all games in draft picks and total players in NFL camps. The Medal of Honor had three draft picks and roughly 64 in a camp.
On TV viewership, the NFLPA Bowl is solid number two and closing closing the gap with being only 149,000, viewers less than the Senior Bowl. The 2014 Senior Bowl earned a 0.5 U.S. rating and 758,000 viewers on NFL Network, flat in ratings and up 3% in viewership from last year (0.5, 735K), and flat and up 15%, respectively, from 2012 (0.5, 662K). The Senior Bowl outdrew both the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on ESPN2 (0.4, 609K) and the East-West Shrine Game on NFL Network (0.3, 459K). (Numbers from Son of the Bronx)
Heading into 2015 here is what is known about the games and how we view the new pecking order.
1. Senior Bowl- It is run by Phil Savage (former Cleveland Browns GM) and is played in January in Mobile, Alabama. Because NFL teams supply the coaches and all 32 teams send complete staffs it is viewed as the top game. Savage has done a great job of putting the game on the map and making it a bigger attraction. The next game is scheduled January 27th. Website: http://www.seniorbowl.com
2. NFLPA Bowl - This is where the shift begins in the all-star circuit. The director of the scouting department is Tony Softli (former Rams VP and Panthers Director of College Scouting). The game had the biggest rise in draft picks and overall players in camps of any game recently formed. Under Softli he has this game in prime position to drop the Shrine Game to third and due to the biggest budget, most sources, and best location of all games makes this game already better than the Shrine Game in its 4th year coming up. The game is played in Carson, California at the Stub Hub Center and based on the this year’s game we expected to be on January 17th. Website: http://collegiate.nflpa.com/
3. East-West Shrine Game - The game is still a solid game but seeing just 36 draft picks this past year really shows they are dropping and with concern about the selection process from agents and media, it has become susceptible to falling down the order and will in 2015. It is ran by Harold Richardson, former Falcons GM, and is played in St. Petersburg, Florida on January 17th. Website: http://www.shrinegame.com
4. Medal of Honor Bowl – After combining with another game they now have a TV deal, former Broncos scout and VMI coach Cal McCombs running the player personnel department they look to be a solid game. He will be joined by Austin Atkinson, a NFLPA licensed agent from South Carolina. It will be the first game in this group played on January 10th in Charleston, South Carolina. Website: http:// www.mohbowl.com
While there may be other games played, the above four are the biggest games and the ones to focus on.
Below is a look at the results of the NFLPA Bowl, Senior Bowl, Shrine, and Medal of Honor as those four games are in a fight to be the second game and all appear to be heading firmly in one direction or another while the Senior Bowl maintains its lock on the top spot.
NFLPA BOWL 2014 Stats
22 players on active rosters
15 players on Practice Squad
2 players on IR
90 total players drafted, signed, or tryout
7 players made a team 53 player roster who were undrafted or snubbed by NFL combine
CB Jimmy Legree, South Carolina – Practice Squad
LB Marquis Spruill, Syracuse – IR
DT Jamie Meder, Ashland – Practice Squad
OG DJ Morrell, Old Dominion – Practice Squad
FB Ray Agnew, Southern Illinois
QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina – Practice Squad
OL Karim Barton, Morgan State – Practice Squad
QB Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M
WR Isaiah Burse, Fresno State
C Matt Paradis, Boise State – Practice Squad
OT Cornelius Lucas, Kansas State
GREEN BAY PACKERS
DT Khyri Thornton, Southern Miss – IR
OG Josh Allen, Louisiana-Monroe – Practice Squad
OT Josh Wells, James Madison
WR Tony Washington, Appalachian State – Practice Squad
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
WR Albert Wilson, Georgia State
CB Sammy Seamster, Middle Tennessee State
CB Jabari Price, North Carolina
LB Brandon Watts, Georgia Tech
CB Kendall James, Maine – Practice Squad
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
TE Terrence Miller, Arizona – IR
LB Deontae Skinner, Mississippi State – Practice Squad
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
OLB Kasim Edebali, Boston College
CB Brian Dixon, Northwest Missouri State
DT Lawrence Virgil, Valdosta State – Practice Squad
NEW YORK GIANTS
WR Corey Washington, Newberry
NEW YORK JETS
LB Jeremiah George, Iowa
DE Denico Autry, Mississippi State – Practice Squad
LB Howard Jones, Shepherd – Practice Squad
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
DE Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, Boise State – IR
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
CB Kenneth Acker, SMU – IR
TE Asante Cleveland, Miami – Practice Squad
LB Brock Coyle, Montana
LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, Boston College
DT Jimmy Staten, Middle Tennessee State – Practice Squad
ST. LOUIS RAMS
RB Trey Watts, Tulsa
TAMPA BAY BUCS
CB Brandon Dixon, Northwest Missouri State
LB Avery Williamson, Kentucky
WR Eric Ward, Texas Tech – IR
SENIOR BOWL 2014 Stats
76 players on active rosters
82 players drafted
13 players on Practice Squad
10 players on IR
118 total players drafted, signed, or a tryout with NFL team
SHRINE GAME 2014 Stats
36 players on active rosters
23 players on Practice Squad
2 players on IR
97 total players drafted, signed, or tryout with NFL team
5 players made a team 53 player roster who were undrafted and snubbed by NFL combine
MEDAL OF HONOR BOWL 2014
7 players on active rosters
16 players on Practice Squad
2 players on IR
64 total players drafted, signed, or tryout with NFL team
4 made a team 53 player roster who were undrafted and snubbed by NFL combine
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