DALLAS (CBS SPORTS) – When the news came down 15 years ago, it couldn’t have been a surprise to Rick Baker.

The world was changing, and the Cotton Bowl’s president/CEO realized his game wasn’t in that world. The BCS world. For 55 years the Cotton had been a part of the landscape, mostly as the ancestral postseason home of the Southwest Conference. But the dilapidated Cotton Bowl stadium located on the Texas State Fairgrounds was in need of repair. That’s a delicate way to put it.

A relationship with the Southwest Conference was long gone because the SWC was long gone. At that moment in 1997, the Cotton ceased to be a major bowl, a Darwinian victim of the changing landscape. And that hurt.

“Keep talking us up,” Baker would say good-naturedly when he bumped into writers at various conference media days.

It’s been a decade and a half now since the Cotton didn’t make the cut as one of the four BCS bowls. It has been a long, sometimes frustrating slog since then. Baker, the city and his bowl were hopeful 15 years ago but were basically beaten out by John Junker and the Fiesta Bowl.

“The Fiesta Bowl was being as aggressive as all get out with the bidding,” said Michael Konradi, the Cotton’s vice president of external affairs. “We were playing with an old antiquated stadium, was the biggest issue. Now that we have a stadium …”

Ah, yes the stadium. Now that Dallas has Jerry Jones’ three-year-old state-of-the-art Cowboys Stadium a lot of things are going to change. Even if the city doesn’t become the site of the lucrative Champions Bowl in the next few days, the stadium almost certainly will be a part of new playoff rotation.

In that sense, Dallas already has been re-validated as a college football capital. The annual Red River Shootout (Oklahoma-Texas) remains at the now-renovated Cotton Bowl stadium. The Cotton Bowl game has relocated to glittery Cowboys Stadium. The National Football Foundation and Big 12 both call the Metroplex home as well.

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