Earnie Seiler to be Honored with Football Bowl Association's Legacy Award
Earnie Seiler, the “Mad Genius” who shaped the Orange Bowl through its first 40 years of existence, will be honored with the Football Bowl Association’s (FBA) Legacy Award for 2018. Seiler will join Fred Digby and Warren Miller of the Sugar Bowl, and Field Scovill of the Cotton Bowl as this year’s honorees.
The FBA’s Legacy Award is awarded to “individuals with distinguished service within the Bowl industry.” It will be presented when the FBA holds its annual meeting April 17-19 in Boise, ID.
Seiler was one of a handful of South Florida visionaries who created the Orange Bowl Classic and its surrounding festival to generate tourism in the relatively young village of Miami. Earnie was the first executive director of the Orange Bowl Committee (OBC), and he brought that vision to life. Elaborate halftime shows and glittery parades became his signature, as the festival drew thousands, and eventually tens of thousands to South Florida.
Seiler’s persuasive charm enabled the Orange Bowl to grow quickly. In the late 1930s he convinced Ted Husing and CBS Radio to provide a live broadcast of the game, generated funding for a new Orange Bowl Stadium, and attracted two undefeated national powerhouses to play in the 1939 game, all of which placed the Orange Bowl and Miami on the map. Earnie was at the helm of the Orange Bowl into the mid-1970s, including when the game became the first major bowl to be played--and televised—at night in 1964.
“Earnie was one of a kind,” said Sean Pittman, OBC President & Chair. “With the Orange Bowl as his vehicle, he tirelessly promoted South Florida and became a ‘larger than life’ figure throughout our state. He is a true legend in the bowl business as are the other honorees. Together, their contributions to the bowl business are immeasurable.”
In making the announcement, FBA Executive Director Wright Waters noted that “each of these individuals represent a legacy that is re-recognized each year by the success of the Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Cotton Bowl.
“All of these games are iconic in its own right, and an institution in Miami, New Orleans and Dallas. Each owes its success to the early achievements of these four pioneers.”
A public relations executive by trade, Field Scovell’s affiliation with the Cotton Bowl began in 1948. He served as co-chairman of team selection from 1963-74, then as chairman from 1975-92. Scovell’s year-round influence on the game led to his becoming known simply as “Mr. Cotton Bowl.”
Warren Miller, along with Fred Digby, were two of the guiding forces for what is now the Sugar Bowl game. During the mid-1930s, Miller chaired the New Orleans association that called for a new postseason game to be played in that city. Several previous attempts had failed, but Miller’s perseverance in forming the Mid-Winter Sports Association, along with Digby’s media role with the local newspaper, helped the organization achieve its long-term goals.
There will be a special presentation by the Football Bowl Association to the Seiler family at this year’s College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl festivities.
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