David Fox Rivals.com College Football Staff Writer
Fans like to pile on the bowl system, but they're not the ones receiving a laptop for finishing tied for fifth in the Pac-10 or an electronics shopping spree for finishing third in the ACC Coastal.
December is a time for giving, and the bowls join in the action by showering players with gifts upon arrival.
The NCAA permits bowls to provide each player with up to $500 worth of gifts to be awarded at the bowl site. Whether that limit is met is up to the bowls. Whether players select their gifts or the games set up a shopping spree is up to the bowls, too.
The latter is becoming more of the norm. At least half of the 34 bowls are giving players shopping sprees, opening a gift suite or allowing players to pick gifts out of a catalogue. The Capital One and Champs Sports bowls, both organized by Florida Citrus Sports, were among the first to allow players to pick their gifts.
"We're somewhat widely credited for gift suites and a shopping spree," said Steve Hogan, CEO of Florida Citrus Sports. "We kind of said, 'Look, it just doesn't make sense to kind of guess on an electronic item, a branded item and just guess what kids want.' "
The Sugar Bowl has Weber grills in its gift suite, and Maaco Bowl Las Vegas participants can choose to take home a recliner from their gift suite.
Some bowls are trying to stay ahead of the trends, especially if a gadget will come in handy on a long road trip.
A year after giving players headphones and standard souvenir swag, the Emerald Bowl is giving away Hewlett Packard mini netbooks, which essentially are tiny laptops. EagleBank Bowl participants will get a Slingbox, a device that allows users to watch TV on a computer or mobile phone, and Powermat, a wireless charging station for cell phones give FLO TV, a mobile personal television, and one-year subscriptions to the service.
Some bowls are giving players the opportunity to take home some local flavor. The Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho, has given players parkas, gloves, beanies and hand warmers. When Miami played in the game in 2007, perhaps Hurricanes players thought those were odd gifts, but Idaho and Bowling Green players will get some use out of them once they leave Boise. The Texas Bowl sends teams home with an oversized belt buckle. The Hawaii Bowl, naturally, provides Hawaiian shirts, beach towels, sunglasses and a lei.
The Cotton Bowl, though, wants to preserve the suspense. The Dallas-based bowl refuses to reveal its gifts until the teams arrive on site.
Here's a complete list of the bowl games that do reveal their gifts; some didn't respond to numerous requests from Rivals.com, so in those cases, responses to other media outlets were used. Those bowls are marked by asterisks.
Fresno State vs. Wyoming, Dec. 19, Albuquerque, N.M. The gifts* Sony gift suite
OGIO garment bag
Rutgers vs. UCF, Dec. 19, St. Petersburg, Fla. The gifts* iLuv iPod/DVD player
BYU vs. Oregon State, Dec. 22, Las Vegas The gifts Gift suite, up to $350 worth of audio/visual electronics, bicycles, appliances, a recliner and luggage.
Utah vs. California, Dec. 23, San Diego The gifts Flo TV personal television and one year of service
Best Buy gift card
Sports Tek hoodie
Nevada vs. SMU, Dec. 24, Honolulu The gifts i-Luv i1166 Multi-Media DVD player
Kicker EB101 Ear Bud headphones
Kahala Aloha shirt
A4 Performance shirt
LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA
Ohio vs. Marshall, Dec. 26, Detroit The gifts Sony gift package selected from brochure
Timely Co. watch
MEINEKE CAR CARE
Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina, Dec. 26, Charlotte, N.C. The gifts Option of Bose Quiet Comfort headphones set or Bose Sound Dock or iPod Touch, iLive speakers and $20 gift card
OGIO duffle bag
USC vs. Boston College, Dec. 26, San Francisco The gifts Hewlett Packard mini netbook
Armor Gear backpack
Clemson vs. Kentucky, Dec. 27, Nashville, Tenn. The gifts RCA Flip camera
Georgia vs. Texas A&M, Dec. 28, Shreveport, La. The gifts Player gift suite, which includes Sony gifts such as a Blu Ray player, Bravia sound system and electronics
Temple vs. UCLA, Dec. 29, Washington, D.C. The gifts SlingMedia Slingbox SOLO with Slinglink Turbo 1 Port
Kanata tailgate blanket
Miami vs. Wisconsin, Dec. 29, Orlando, Fla. The gifts $420 Best Buy shopping spree
Idaho vs. Bowling Green, Dec. 30, Boise, Idaho The gifts Choice of: Sony Bravia theater system, Sony portable DVD player and two sets of Sony headphones or Garmin NUVi 1250
Winter gloves and hand warmers
Arizona vs. Nebraska, Dec. 30, San Diego The gifts Flo TV personal television and one year of service
Best Buy gift card
Sports Tek hoodie
Houston vs. Air Force, Dec. 31, Fort Worth, Texas The gifts Sony players' gift suite
Stanford vs. Oklahoma, Dec. 31, El Paso, Texas The gifts Gift Suite (players get to select their gift from a menu of items)
Timely Watch Co. watch
Brut hair dryer
Majestic Pro-Base fleece pullover
Missouri vs. Navy, Dec. 31, Houston The gifts $300 Best Buy shopping spree
Under Armour backpack
Under Armour shirt and hat
Texas Bowl belt buckle
Iowa State vs. Minnesota, Dec. 31, Tempe, Ariz. The gifts Electronics package from Davene, Inc.
Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee, Dec. 31, Atlanta The gifts $250 Best Buy gift card
Chick-fil-A gift card
Russell Athletic travel bag
Auburn vs. Northwestern, Jan. 1, Tampa, Fla. The gifts Best Buy gift card
Outback Steakhouse gift card
LSU vs. Penn State, Jan. 1, Orlando, Fla. The gifts $420 Best Buy shopping spree
Oregon vs. Ohio State, Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif. The gifts 19-inch Sharp television combo
Cincinnati vs. Florida, Jan. 1, New Orleans The gifts Gift Suite featuring Sony, Trek and Weber products
Timely Watch Co. watch
USF vs. Northern Illinois, Jan. 2, Toronto The gifts Gift brochure: electronics, travel gear
Connecticut vs. South Carolina, Jan. 2, Birmingham, Ala. The gifts RCA HD video camera
Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss, Jan. 2, Dallas The gifts: The Cotton Bowl does not reveal its gift package before giving it to bowl participants.
East Carolina vs. Arkansas, Jan. 2, Memphis, Tenn. The gifts Westinghouse 19-inch HDTV (also can be used as a computer monitor)
Nike Sports Pack: running shoes, sports sandals, sunglasses
Texas Tech vs. Michigan State, Jan. 2, San Antonio The gifts 32 gig iPod Touch
Dr. Dre Monster Beats headphones
Oakley "Antics" sunglasses
TCU vs. Boise State, Jan. 4, Glendale, Ariz. The gifts Electronics package from Davene, Inc.
Georgia Tech vs. Iowa, Jan. 5, Miami The gifts Gift suite including iPods, iPod accessories, flat-screen TV, home theater system, mountain bike and luggage
Central Michigan vs. Troy, Jan. 6, Mobile, Ala. The gifts: (not a complete list)
RCA Small Wonder HD-720p pocket camcorder
Micro SD Memory Card
BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Alabama vs. Texas, Jan. 7, Pasadena, Calif. The gifts Gift suite with products from Sony, Trek mountain bikes and Garmin
David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.