December is officially here and with the selections show on Sunday night it seems everyone knows their destination for the holiday bowl season. All the boys will be pulling into town five or six days before their game to stay in a relatively swank hotel, practice at a high school, experience all the city has to offer and, oh yeah, play a football game. Ah, it is quite the magical time folks.
There really is so much to love about the bowl trip and to be honest the week we spent in my own hometown of Charlotte in 2004 for the Continental Tire Bowl was a moment in my college career, football and otherwise, that will always go down in history. Anytime the boys and I get back together things that happened that week get brought up and the experience gets rehashed.
We had a ball in Charlotte just seven Decembers ago and along with the luncheon, the ride-along with NASCAR, the per diem and the overall experience the SWAG always gets brought up. Players always talk swag when bowl games are concerned.
That's Stuff We All Get for the layperson. In 2004 it was an Ogio book bag, a hoody, some shorts, a commemorative football, a fossil watch and a portable DVD player. By 2004 standards for a middle of the road bowl game that wasn't half bad. It wasn't the XBox that some of our friends in another bowl game got but it wasn't that bad considering where we were.
However, keeping my infatuation with swag in mind every year the list comes out I get excited to see what rewards in the form of goodies these players are going to get for busting their butts all spring, summer and fall. It's not exactly cash but getting "stuff" is not half bad folks.
Looking around we'll outline the best and worst of the list but for starters let's touch on the "Gift Suite" that is becoming so popular. Gift suites are absolutely awesome. Depending upon other gifts given we're talking from around $300 to the full $550 value possible. It is simply the players, an order form, a shipping address and whatever goodies the bowl decides should be available to get. This is the creme de la creme of swag. Especially the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl all Sony everything gift sweet.
Now that suites are clearly set apart let's get into the best of the rest:
Capital One Bowl, Champs Sports Bowl and the Valero Alamo Bowl all get this nod at the top for their commitment to keeping the teams in the electronics game. Capital One and Champs are both kicking the doors down with a $420 Best Buy "shopping trip" while Valero gets into the game with a $400 Best Buy giftcard. That's enough to grab up a boat load of video games for the PS3 or XBox360 the players likely already have. Cameras, stereos, televisions and the like are also on the table courtesy of the bowl games.
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl steps up to the plate as well with their decision to get the kids flush with video games by way of a PS3 in every hand. Maybe they already have an XBox360? Now they've got a PS3. Maybe they already have a PS3? Now they have a bedroom PS3 and a living room PS3. This is not a bad thing because we're talking built in wi-fi, a solid game library and it doubles as a BluRay player.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas graces the "must have" list for this guy too. A 32 inch flatscreen television would look right nice in the bedroom and the belt buckle is the icing on the cake.
And real talk if you don't like belt buckles I don't even want to know you.
There are a slew of other gifts that are noteworthy including the Best Buy giftcards of various dollar amounts and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl should get a note for their commitment to fresh Nike gear.
On the other end of that spectrum we've got the gifts that I would be so not impressed with getting.
We'll kick it off with the Hyundai Sun Bowl and their decision to give their gang of football players "Helen of Troy" hair dryers. Seriously. A hair dry. Not some super fancy hair dryer but basically the sweet eqiuvalent of the hotel hair dryer that I normally use to dry up spilled water or condensation from my glass on the vanity; just because it is there and I have the time to do it.
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl makes this list, not necessarily because the gifts are bad but because they are not giving you things to fit in the spirit of absolute excess as these gifts should be given. No they're giving these players things that they will need to combat the bone chilling cold of playing in Idaho in December; North End winter coats, Kombi gloves and a Nike Beanie. Now I have never heard of North End jackets until now but apparently:
NorthEndJackets.com is the leader in providing quality jackets for your corporate, business, retail store, event, organization, school, government agency, club, restaurant or sports team.
Ah, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl has decided not to disclose their gift to the masses. I am going to assume that is because they are just giving out New Era products. As a guy that proudly wears a standard black Houston Astros 5950 everyday, everywhere I can respect that. Except I imagine they are not getting $550 worth of the hats they want, rather some unwearable Pinstripe Bowl hat with pinstripes and logos all over it that random guy wouldn't display in his barbershop, let alone on his head.
As we wrap up we look at two gifts that I honestly don't know what to do with; the Belk Bowl's $400 Belk shopping trip and the GoDaddy.com Bowl's Nikon S80 camera. Belk would be sweet if I was a mom or if I was looking to pocket my per diem and save some cash on a girlfriend's Christmas gift or buy some dress clothes. Unfortunately 20 year old me was not doing any of those things aside from perhaps the girlfriend angle and I'm not sure I'd have the stones to wander into the women's area to get my college girlfriend all set up nice on the team trip to Belk
That said Belk does sell Tommy Bahama and I'd likely end up with $400 worth of TB gear that would have me looking quite casual.
In regards to the camera I don't even know if that is a good one or not. I don't take pictures with anything but my Blackberry. Odds are that camera ends up in my mom's hands much like my portable DVD player from the Continental Tire Bowl in 2004.