College bowl games are a way of rewarding teams that earned a .500 record or better during the season. Once the regular season ends, teams are sent to exotic destinations across the country ranging from Boise, Idaho (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl) to Shreveport, Louisiana (Independence Bowl) to Jacksonville, Florida (Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl) and everywhere in between.
Not only do the players get rewarded for a successful to average regular season but they're also showered with participation gifts for playing in the bowl. Back when I played youth football we had a pizza party following the season. Needless to say, college players receive better prizes than just a plain ol' pizza party.
Recently the Sports Business Journal released their list of what each bowl game awards to each team that play in the different bowl games.
The SEC will be sending nine teams to bowl games each year with each team receiving something special.
Mississippi State will be the first team to college their prize as each Bulldog player will receive a gift suite and a Reactor watch for playing in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City on December 30th.
Vanderbilt, playing in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on December 31st, will receive a Best Buy gift card, Fossil watch, Nike training shoes, Nike sport sandals, Nike sunglasses, Nike Air Jordan backpack, commemorative game ball. Yeah, you read that right. A commemorative game ball so that former Vandy players can encase it in glass and place it on their mantle to relive the memories they had of playing in Memphis vs Cincinnati.
With the Liberty Bowl upping the ante, the Chic-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta ,kicking off just a few hours before the Liberty Bowl,had to one up them. So in the game between last year's national champion Auburn against upstart Virginia the players will receive $250 Best Buy gift card, Fossil watch, Russell Athletic ski cap, Russell Athletic travel bag, $15 Chick-fil-A gift card, commemorative football. ANOTHER COMMEMORATIVE FOOTBALL! And a $15 gift card is good enough for about a meal and a half at Chic-Fil-A. Two whole meals if you're lucky.
A very tongue-in-cheek prize for South Carolina players awaits them for going to one of the more lucrative non-BCS bowl games – the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, FL on January 2nd. The Gamecocks along with their opponents, the Nebraska Cornhuskers, will all receive a $420 shopping trip to a local Best Buy and a Timely Watch Co. watch . Why the sponsors chose 420, especially given former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia's history with weed, is a bit perplexing.
The Outback Bowl in Tampa will see the SEC runner-up Georgia Bulldogs face against the Big Ten runner-up Michigan State Spartans. The players for each team should be thrilled to receive a $150 Best Buy gift card, Fossil watch, Jostens ring, cap, $25 Outback Steakhouse gift certificate. A Josten's ring, just like the one you bought to commemorate your high school graduation, more than likely with the Outback boomerang logo engraved in it, is something certainly special. Who knows? Maybe you the players will receive free Outback for life by having a piece of jewelry with the Outback boomerang on it.
Florida will be facing the team that hired their former coach, Urban Meyer, in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl. Each player for the Ohio State Buckeyes and Gators will receive a Fossil watch, Gator Gear performance headwear, rolling luggage bag, Jostens ring, and commemorative football. It's a bit surprising that the bowl isn't offering discounted or free tax services too but to off-set that oversight the bowl will be giving each player not one but TWO ways to remember this clash of 6-6 teams. A Josten's ring AND a commemorative football. A bowl so nice you get to relive it twice.
The Cotton Bowl will only disclose that the participants, Arkansas and Kansas State, will receive a Fossil watch. If I had to guess they will also receive a gift suite, a Josten's ring, a commemorative football, and possibly an AT&T gift card since that's the Cotton Bowl's sponsor.
Finally, the marquee match-up, LSU vs Alabama in the national championship. This should be the bowl to give the best prizes but it's not. The Sun Bowl actually gives better prizes. Each Tiger and Tide player will receive a Gift suite, Fossil watch, New Era cap, Boxer and Stone shirt. One can just imagine how many LSU and Alabama players will wear the shirt which would make them look like Carlton from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire.
Some of the more unique items being given to players by bowls include the Sun Bowl giving Helen of Troy hair dryers, the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas giving a belt buckle, the Valero Alamo Bowl giving each player a panoramic team photo, the Gilden New Mexico handing out Christmas ornaments, and the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl giving each player playing cards.