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Bowl Games: No time like the present

College football offers a full slate of gifts and bowls this season

By David Broughton
Gift suites for up to 125 game participants per team is the most common way for bowls to distribute presents to players.getty images

After nearly half of last year’s bowl games were canceled, college football’s postseason stakeholders are looking forward to spending a record amount over the next few weeks as part of their annual gift-giving tradition.

Our 16th annual look at the gift packages offered to players by the committees that operate the 43 Division I bowl matchups, including next month’s national championship game, shows that those organizations will provide more than $6 million in electronics, watches and other goodies to the participants in their respective games.

The most common way of distributing these presents is to arrange for an online or in-person “gift suite,” where, according to NCAA rules, up to 125 game participants per school are given an order form and allowed to shop for an item, or items, up to a total value of $550 per person. Additional packages can be, and usually are, purchased by the school. Twenty-four committees will host such events this season. 

The remaining committees abide by the same NCAA guidelines, but opt to arrange and present the packages themselves, rather than provide a suite.

Vendors such as Fossil (watches) and Maui Jim (sunglasses) provide staff to custom fit their items for each player.

Jon Cooperstein, who introduced the gift suite concept at the 2008 Orange Bowl, said that prior to the pandemic, the committees liked to set up the events at host hotels, unique sites in the game’s host city or on campus. After a move to almost 100% online for last year’s gifting, most committees are giving the schools the option. Cooperstein is working with 27 committees this year, including the national championship game.

Sponsors of the games themselves are rarely involved with the gift-giving process.

This will be the fifth year that Sony has title-sponsored the Fiesta Bowl, and the company will stock the committee’s package with its hard-to-find Sony PS5. Additionally, Virginia and SMU players in Fenway Sports Management’s inaugural Wasabi Bowl will receive a dopp kit from Boston Red Sox sponsor L.L.Bean. And boxes of Frosted Flakes will be handed out at the Sun Bowl’s pregame festivities as part of Kellogg’s title sponsorship that began in 2019.  

Eighteen stadiums that are hosting a bowl game have a naming-rights deal, but none of those partners provide gift items. The representatives for the Goodyear Cotton Bowl and organizers of this season’s national championship game maintained their traditions of not disclosing the contents of their respective gift packages.

Other individual items this year that stand out:

Eastern Michigan and Liberty players will select a YoBow Massage Pistol from LendingTree Bowl’s gift suite in one of eight colors. Based on the color the player chooses, the company will make a donation to one or two of 15 charities. The Guaranteed Rate, Duke’s Mayo and Barstool Sports Arizona bowls also will hand out a massager.

The EasyPost Hawai‘i Bowl has had a partnership with Honolulu-based Tori Richard for 12 years and will provide the Memphis and Hawaii players with shirts from the company’s Kahala brand.

Making their first bowl gift package appearance this year are Action Face personalized figures. Players at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Missouri-Army) and the Servpro First Responder Bowl (Louisville-Air Force) will have headshot photos taken and choose a football pose, then the company that was formed by six former Hasbro and Activision employees will use a 3D printer to build a personalized action figure for each player.

 

Action figures to cowboy hats — bowls offer unique gifts

 

Bahamas Bowl

Dec. 17, Noon ET (ESPN)
MTSU  vs. Toledo
Thomas Robinson Stadium (Nassau, Bahamas)
Board shorts; Ice Shaker bottle; beach towel; string backpack; lapel pin; additional item TBD

Tailgreeter Cure Bowl

Dec. 17, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
Coastal Carolina vs. Northern Illinois
Exploria Stadium (Orlando)
Hoodie; long sleeve dri-fit T-shirt; flexfit performance hat; deluxe duffel bag; wireless power bank; Ice Shaker bottle 

RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl

Dec. 18, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Western Kentucky vs. Appalachian State
FAU Stadium (Boca Raton, Fla.)
Gift suite

Cricket Celebration Bowl

Dec. 18, Noon (ABC)
S.C. State vs. Jackson State
Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta)
Gift suite; backpack; beanie; rechargeable battery pack; gift certificate for mom; journal

PUBG MOBILE New Mexico Bowl

Dec. 18, 2:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Fresno State vs. UTEP
Dreamstyle Stadium (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Gift suite

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl

Dec. 18, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
BYU vs. UAB
Independence Stadium (Shreveport, La.)
Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era beanie; commemorative football

LendingTree Bowl

Dec. 18, 5:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Liberty vs. E. Michigan
Ladd-Peebles Stadium (Mobile, Ala.)
 Gift suite

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl presented by Stifel

Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)
Utah State vs. Oregon State
SoFi Stadium (Inglewood, Calif.)
JR 286 duffel bag; Bumpboxx Bluetooth speaker; Maui Jim sunglasses fitting; commemorative football; water bottle; gift card (value TBD)

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Dec. 18, 9:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Louisiana vs. Marshall
Caesars Superdome (New Orleans)
Gift suite; Fossil watch

Myrtle Beach Bowl

Dec. 20, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Tulsa vs. Old Dominion
Brooks Stadium (Conway, S.C.)
Gift suite; Fossil watch; Big Game autograph football; Ice Shaker bottle

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Dec. 21, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Kent State vs. Wyoming
Albertsons Stadium (Boise, Idaho)
Gift suite

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl

Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
San Diego State vs. UTSA
Toyota Stadium (Frisco, Texas)
Gift suite; Herschel backpack; Justin cowboy hat; Big Game autograph football; beanie; commemorative coin; lapel pin

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Dec. 22, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Army vs. Missouri
Amon G. Carter Stadium (Fort Worth, Texas)
Gift suite; beanie; Action Face figure; Google Chromecast; commemorative football

Frisco Football Classic

Dec. 23, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
North Texas vs. Miami (Ohio)
Toyota Stadium (Frisco, Texas)
N/A

Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl

Dec. 23, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
UCF vs. Florida
Raymond James Stadium (Tampa)
Gift suite; headphones; cooler backpack; beach towel; Ice Shaker bottle

EasyPost Hawai‘i Bowl

Dec. 24, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Memphis vs. Hawaii
Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Electronics gift suite; Oakley sunglasses and backpack; Kahala aloha shirt; beach towel; swim trunks

TaxAct Camellia Bowl

Dec. 25, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Ball State. vs. Georgia State
Cramton Bowl (Montgomery, Ala.)
Gift suite; Fossil watch; ESPN beanie and rolling travel bag; Big Game autograph football

Quick Lane Bowl

Dec. 27, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Western Michigan vs. Nevada
Ford Field (Detroit)
JBL Tune 750BTNC Bluetooth, noise-canceling wireless headphones by Harman; $175 Best Buy gift card; PhotoSlap life-sized photo stickers; backpack and tag; commemorative football; other game merchandise

Military Bowl presented by Peraton

Dec. 27, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
East Carolina vs. Boston College
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (Annapolis, Md.)
$350 Mastercard gift card by University Fancards; wireless headphones; beanie

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl

Dec. 28, Noon (ESPN)
Houston vs. Auburn
Protective Stadium (Birmingham, Ala.)
Gift suite; hat; Ice Shaker bottle; shadow kit

Servpro First Responder Bowl

Dec. 28, 3:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Air Force vs. Louisville
Gerald J. Ford Stadium (Dallas)
Gift suite; Action Face personalized figure; Anker phone charger; commemorative football

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Dec. 28, 6:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Texas Tech vs. Mississippi State
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (Memphis)
Bose SoundLink Flex Bluetooth speaker; Caravelle by Bulova watch; Nike backpack, sunglasses, athletic shoes and sport sandals; commemorative football

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

Dec. 28, 8 p.m. (Fox)
N.C. State vs. UCLA
Petco Park (San Diego)
Gift suite; fleece hoodie; short sleeve T-shirt; long sleeve T-shirt

Guaranteed Rate Bowl

Dec. 28, 10:15 p.m. (ESPN)
West Virginia vs. Minnesota
Chase Field (Phoenix)
Theragun Pro massager; Lululemon 22L Cruiser backpack; 26-ounce Ice Shaker bottle

Wasabi Fenway Bowl

Dec. 29, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
SMU vs. Virginia
Fenway Park (Boston)
Gift suite; Bose Sport wireless earbuds; L.L.Bean dopp kit; personalized mini baseball with the player’s name and jersey number

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Dec. 29, 2:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Virginia Tech vs. Maryland
Yankee Stadium (New York)
A variety of New Era products and a shopping experience at Harmon NYC Store; Balfour ring

Cheez-It Bowl

Dec. 29, 5:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Clemson vs. Iowa State
Camping World Stadium (Orlando)
$400 Amazon gift card; Fossil watch; Ogio backpack; commemorative football

Valero Alamo Bowl

Dec. 29, 9:15 p.m. (ESPN)
Oregon vs. Oklahoma
Alamodome (San Antonio)
■ $490 Mastercard gift card by University Fancards; Ice Shaker bottle; mini-helmet; team panoramic photo

Duke’s Mayo Bowl

Dec. 30, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN)
North Carolina vs. South Carolina
Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte)
Hypervolt Go massager; shopping experience at Belk’s Southpark flagship store

TransPerfect Music City Bowl

Dec. 30, 3 p.m. (ESPN)
Tennessee vs. Purdue
Nissan Stadium (Nashville)
Gift suite

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Dec. 30, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Michigan State. vs. Pitt
Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta)
$400 Mastercard gift card by University Fancards; Fossil watch; commemorative football

SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl

Dec. 30, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Wisconsin vs. Arizona State
Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas)
Gift suite

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

Dec. 31, 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M
TIAA Bank Stadium (Jacksonville)
Maui Jim sunglasses fitting; Fossil watch; waterproof Bluetooth speaker; noise-canceling headphones; powerbank; Tile Bluetooth wireless tracker

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

Dec. 31, Noon (CBS)
Washington State vs. Miami
Sun Bowl (El Paso, Texas)
Gift suite; Majestic pro-base fleece pullover; Timely watch; Ogio Excelsior backpack; cap; souvenir coin

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl

Dec. 31, 2 p.m. (Barstool Sports)
Boise State vs. Central Michigan
Arizona Stadium (Tucson, Ariz.)
Lululemon backpack; Reveal custom suit jacket; bucket hat; Hypervolt Go massager; BBTEK wireless waterproof Bluetooth light-up speaker

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic (College Football Playoff semifinal)

Dec. 31, 3:30 (ESPN)
Alabama vs. Cincinnati
AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
Would not disclose

Capital One Orange Bowl (College Football Playoff semifinal)

Dec. 31, 7:30 (ESPN)
Michigan vs. Georgia
Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Fla.)
Gift suite; Tourneau watch; commemorative football

Outback Bowl

Jan. 1, Noon (ESPN2)
Arkansas vs. Penn State
Raymond James Stadium (Tampa)
$150 Amazon gift card; Fossil watch; Jostens ring; $25 Outback Steakhouse gift card; hat

Vrbo Citrus Bowl

Jan. 1, 1 p.m. (ABC)
Iowa vs. Kentucky
Camping World Stadium (Orlando)
$400 Amazon gift card; Fossil watch; Ogio backpack; commemorative football

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

Jan. 1, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma State
State Farm Stadium (Glendale, Ariz.)
PlayStation 5 console and a TBD game

Rose Bowl presented by Capital One Venture X

Jan. 1, 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Ohio State vs. Utah
Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
Gift suite; Fossil watch; Ogio backpack; New Era 9Fifty snapback hat

Allstate Sugar Bowl

Jan. 1, 8:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Baylor vs. Ole Miss
Caesars Superdome (New Orleans)
Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era hat; hooded T-shirt

TaxAct Texas Bowl

Jan. 4, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
Kansas State vs. LSU
NRG Stadium (Houston)
Gift suite; Nike backpack, hat and drawstring bag; belt buckle; cowboy hat; bandana

College Football Playoff National Championship Game

Jan. 8, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
TBD vs. TBD
Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis)
Would not disclose (last year’s gifts: Diesel watch; watch trunk; Claire Chase luggage)

Notes: All times listed are ET. Product details, including specific brand names, are provided as they were available as of Dec. 9. Most watches, rings, clothing, luggage and footballs are customized with the bowl, and sometimes the school, logos.
TBD: Items not finalized
N/A: Details not available
Sources: Bowl committees and vendors

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