College Bowl was a format of college-level quizbowl run and operated by College Bowl Company, Incorporated. It had a format similar to the current NAQT format. College Bowl first aired on US radio stations in 1953, and aired on US television from 1959 to 1970. After a seven-year hiatus following its cancellation on television, the game reappeared on college campuses in 1977 through an affiliation with the Association of College Unions International that lasted for 31 years. In 2008, the College Bowl Company announced its suspension of the College Bowl program, citing increased costs and financial infeasibility of continuing to work with ACUI.
The format was simple. Two four-member teams representing various colleges and universities competed; one member of each team was its captain. The game began with a "toss-up" question for ten points; the first player to buzz in got the right to answer, but if (s)he was wrong, the other team could try to answer (if a player buzzed in before the host finished reading the question and was wrong, the team was penalized five points). Answering a "toss-up" correctly earned the team the right to answer a multi-part "bonus" question worth up to thirty points; the team members could collaborate, but only the captain was allowed to actually give the answer. The game continued in this manner, and was played in halves. During halftime, the players were allowed to show a short promotional film of their school; or they might talk about career plans or the like.
The first College Quiz Bowl match was played on NBC radio on October 10 1953, when Northwestern University defeated Columbia University, 135-60. 26 episodes ran in that first season, with winning teams receiving $500 grants for their school. Good Housekeeping magazine became the sponsor for the 1954-55 season, and a short third season in the autumn of 1955 finished the run. The most dominant team was the University of Minnesota, which had teams appear in 23 of the 68 broadcast matches. The 1953-55 series had a powerful appeal because it used remote broadcasts; each team was located at their own college where they were cheered on by their wildly enthusiastic classmates. The effect was akin to listening to a football game, but this type of excitement evaporated in later versions, in which both teams competed in the same room.
Though a pilot was shot in the spring of 1955, the game did not move to television until 1959. As G.E. College Bowl with General Electric as the primary sponsor, the show ran on CBS from 1959 to 1962, and moved back to NBC for 1962 through 1970. Allen Ludden was the original host, but left to do Password full time in 1962. Robert Earle was moderator for the rest of the run. The norm developed in the Ludden-Earle era of undefeated teams retiring after winning five games. For example, Lafayette College retired undefeated in Fall 1962 after beating the University of California Berkeley for its fifth victory, a David and Goliath event.
The show licensed and spun-off three other academic competitions in the U.S.: Alumni Fun, which appeared on all three major TV networks in the 1960's; Bible Bowl, which has evolved into at least three separate national competitions; and High School Bowl, which was broadcast in some local TV markets.
In 1970 modern invitational tournaments began with the Southeastern Invitational Tournament, and the circuit expanded through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. These tournaments increasingly made various modifications to the College Bowl format, and came to be known as quiz bowl. Earlier invitational tournaments, such as the "Syraquiz" at Syracuse University, had occurred in the 1950s and 1960s.
Agnes Scott came back the next week, but was defeated by Marietta College, 230-115; the 1966 games constituted its only College Bowl appearance. (The win over Princeton is available on YouTube: 1, 2, 3)
Betty Butler Ravenholt went on to become a scholar and writer in the field of health policy in emerging nations. Katherine Bell Hunter earned a master's degree from Wake Forest University and a PhD from the University of Alberta; she later taught botany at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gearreald, Agnes Scott's first blind student, went on to earn a master's and doctorate from Harvard University in English literature and linguistics, and a juris doctorate from Duke University. In 1997, Gearreald was elected Agnes Scott’s Outstanding Alumna for Distinguished Career. Malinda Snow earned master's and PhD degrees from Duke University and teaches English at Georgia State University.
Princeton's captain, Steve Chernicoff, later appeared on the Jeopardy! "Ultimate Tournament of Champions" in 2005.
An Irish version of the competition called Challenging Times ran between 1991 and 2002. It was sponsored by The Irish Times, and presented by Kevin Myers, then a columnist with that newspaper. National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) won it twice.
In the 1990s with the rise of the Academic Competition Federation and National Academic Quiz Tournaments, both with their own national championships, a number of schools (such as the University of Maryland, the University of Chicago, both former national champions, and recent runner up Georgia Tech) "de-affiliated" from College Bowl. Factors which contributed to this process included, among other issues, eligibility rules for College Bowl (which limited the number of graduate students who could compete and required a minimum courseload), higher participation costs for College Bowl relative to these other formats, and disagreements regarding the quality and difficulty of the questions used in College Bowl competitions.
|Year||Host||Champion||2nd place||3rd place||4th place|
|1978||University of Miami||Stanford||Yale||Cornell||Oberlin College|
|1979||University of Miami||Davidson College||Harvard||Oberlin College||Cornell|
|1980||Washington University in St. Louis||Fresno St.||Washington University in St. Louis||MIT||Washington St.|
|1981||Marshall||University of Maryland||Davidson||Marshall||Michigan St.|
|1982||New York City||UNC-Chapel Hill||Rice||UW-Madison||Vassar|
|1984||Ohio St.||University of Minnesota||Washington University in St. Louis||Princeton†||Vassar†|
|1986||Georgia Institute of Technology||UW-Madison||Princeton||Georgia Institute of Technology||Utah|
|1987||Orlando, Florida||University of Minnesota||Georgia Institute of Technology||NC State†||Western Connecticut State University†|
|1988||University of Illinois at Chicago||NC State||Emory||Princeton||Kent St.|
|1989||College of DuPage||University of Minnesota||Georgia Institute of Technology||Kent St.||George Washington University|
|1990||University of Minnesota||University of Chicago||MIT||George Washington University||Rice|
|1991||University of Illinois at Chicago||Rice||Cornell||University of Minnesota||University of Wisconsin|
|1992||George Washington University||MIT||Stanford||University of Pennsylvania||Cornell|
|1993||USC||University of Virginia||University of Michigan||University of Chicago||Harvard|
|1994||University of Florida||University of Chicago||University of Virginia||Brigham Young University††||George Washington University|
|1995||University of Akron||Harvard||University of Chicago||University of Michigan||Brigham Young University|
|1996||Arizona St.||University of Michigan||University of Virginia||Princeton||Cornell|
|1997||Montclair St.||University of Virginia||Harvard||University of Oklahoma||University of Chicago|
|1998||University of Texas at Dallas||University of Michigan||Cornell||Stanford||Chicago|
|1999||University of Florida||University of Chicago||University of Michigan||University of Minnesota||Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University|
|2000||Bentley College||University of Michigan||University of Arkansas||University of Chicago||Williams College|
|2001||Cal St. Los Angeles||University of Michigan||University of Chicago||UT-Austin||Cornell|
|2002||Kansas St.||University of Michigan||UCLA||University of Florida||University of Chicago|
|2003||University of Pennsylvania||University of Chicago||University of Florida||University of Rochester||UCLA|
|2004||Auburn University at Montgomery||University of Minnesota||University of Michigan||University of Florida||Georgetown|
|2005||University of Washington||University of Minnesota||University of Rochester||Stanford||Truman St.|
|2006||University of Hartford||UCLA||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign||Washington University in St. Louis||University of Minnesota|
|2007||USC||University of Minnesota||USC||Williams College||Baylor|
|2008||Macalester College||University of Rochester||University of New Mexico||University of Minnesota||The Ohio State University|
†Tied for third (lost in semifinals, no playoff for third place).
††In 1994, Brigham Young University finished second in the round-robin, qualifying for the final series. However, as the final best-two-out-of-three series was held on Sunday, the team declined to participate, and the University of Virginia took their place instead. Brigham Young was awarded third place.