The game and trophy are named after former Miami Dolphinshead coachDon Shula. Don Shula was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 1970 to 1995. Each school's first head coach has previous ties to Don Shula. Florida Atlantic's first head coach Howard Schnellenberger was an assistant of Shula in the 1970s, and FIU's first head coach Don Strock, was a player under Shula in the 1970s and 1980s. Don Shula set numerous records as head coach of the Miami Dolphins and his legacy is seen throughout the Miami area. The Shula Bowl pays homage to Shula, to South Florida football and the ties and history of both universities.
The Shula Bowl was first played at Sun Life Stadium, then known as Pro Player Stadium, in present day Miami Gardens, Florida on 23 November 2002. The game alternates between Florida Atlantic and FIU's home fields. Until 2010, Florida Atlantic used Pro Player Stadium (later renamed Dolphin Stadium in 2006) as their home field, where FIU has always used FIU Stadium on the FIU campus as its home field. In 2007, FIU used the Miami Orange Bowl in Little Havana, Miami as its home field, while FIU Stadium was undergoing an expansion. The 2007 game was played in the final months of the Orange Bowl before being demolished for the construction of Marlins Park. beginning in 2012, Florida Atlantic used its newly built FAU Stadium in Boca Raton as its home field, marking the first time the Shula Bowl was played on both rival schools' campuses.
For years the game was telecast on the ESPN family of networks through an agreement to broadcast games in the Sun Belt Conference. In 2013, both schools moved to Conference USA, and the game was instead aired on Fox Sports 1, as C-USA does not currently air games on the ESPN networks (save for the conference championship game).