The bowl gift list is out, and it’s time to embrace the yearly tradition of seeing which teams got hosed in the swag department.
If you’re new to this exercise, here’s the rundown courtesy of SportsBusiness Journal.
The NCAA allows each bowl to award up to $550 worth of gifts to 125 participants per school. Schools can, and almost always do, buy additional packages that they can distribute to participants beyond that 125 limit. In addition, participants can receive awards worth up to $400 from the school and up to $400 from the conference for postseason play, covering both conference title games and any bowl game.
Translation: if you win enough games, you get some free stuff at your bowl destination. Some of these packages are magnificent and some are, well, not. Somehow this is not an NCAA violation and selling your bowl jersey is, but we’ve known for quite some time that the NCAA makes most of their decisions after a long night at the bar.
The SBJ has unearthed what each bowl will be giving to each team for participating, and it’s time for us to look at the best and worst of this year's bowl bundles.
What They Get: Apple iPad Mini, Fossil watch, $100 Best Buy gift card, panoramic team photo, Schutt mini helmet
See, Longhorns fans. A “meh” season does come with perks. Well, at least for your team.
This is a nice little coup for Texas and Oregon State, and I would be thrilled to head home with this impressive package. I was thrilled when my favorite kind of Ramen was on the shelf in college, however, so I suppose I’m the wrong one to be judging.
The iPad Mini highlights this package, but don’t sleep on the mini helmet or that photo. Also, apparently Fossil watches still exist.
I learned something today.
What They Get: Timely watch, leather travel sports bag, football
How free pizza is not involved blows my mind, or is this an assumed perk that simply isn’t listed? Big Red obviously just caught word of this and his expression can be seen on this particular slide.
These are the important things I need to know when assessing this, and this could drastically impact its presence here. With that said, I’m sorry, Western Kentucky and Central Michigan, but this just doesn’t do it for me. It probably won't do it for you, either.
I’m not a watch guy—that’s why I have my cellphone—and a “sports bag” and a football sounds more like that Christmas gift you get from your grandmother EVERY single year.
What They Get: $420 Best Buy Gift Cards and a Timely Watch
You know what the best gift is around the holidays? Please, write this down, Santa, mom, wife, readers that are feeling overly generous.
The best gift to receive around the holidays is the gift… of being able to buy your own gift. A $420 gift card to Best Buy does just that. And sure, go ahead and throw in a watch that I won’t wear if you’re feeling generous. I’m sure dad will love it.
There’s nothing all that dazzling about this bundle, but Rutgers and Virginia Tech must be happy with this simple but generous opportunity. Gift cards are the gifts that keep on giving.
What They Get: Fossil watch, Dome hat, Mercury garment bag and carry-on bag, Jostens ring, football
The ring could salvage this, although let's not forget it's a Gator Bowl ring, assuming there is a Gator Bowl tie-in and it doesn't just have "Have Fun" engraved on it. That's sort of like that 6th place team getting a trophy in your son's soccer league, but hey, they're playing in a bowl game and I remain swag-less.
Once again the Fossil watch surfaces, as it does with many of these packages. We now know why we don't hear from them all year; it's because they spend their entire marketing/resource budget on college football gift packs.
Northwestern and Mississippi State will also both be set on the garment bag front, which will undoubtedly look very fashionable in their dorm room.
What They Get: Beats by Dre headphones, Fossil watch, Oakley backpack
East Carolina and Louisiana-Lafayette will meet up in a game that will be watched by dozens (I'll be one of them), but they are both on the end of some rather impressive bowl swag.
The Fossil watch surfaces again (BREAKING), although it's more of a throw-in. An Oakley backpack? I'll gladly take one, thank you.
Beats headphones, however, are about the coolest possible item you can give to a student athlete, and I imagine both teams are thrilled to be getting them. Also, from someone who recently purchased a pair, they are fabulous once you can get past the price, which takes a few weeks.
Sponsor me, Dre. Let's talk.
What They Get: Timely watch, Majestic fleece, Top of the World cap, coin, Helen of Troy hair dryer
There’s something about a Lane Kiffin-coached team getting hairdryers at a bowl that makes me chuckle. I’m not quite sure why (I am), but it also serves as a rather solid season synopsis for the former preseason No. 1. Georgia Tech will also receive a hairdryer for receiving a bowl waiver to play in this game.
Again, somehow this all seems planned.
The biggest question regarding whether or not this bundle can be salvaged is the quality of the fleece. If it’s a high end shoulder covering piece of fake fur, then perhaps “loser” seems a bit strong. If it’s a “one and done” fleece that you wear—typically the kind that your weird uncle gets you for your birthday—then I have serious concerns about this gift pack.