Posted by Tom Fornelli
Coaches and players love going to a bowl game. For coaches it's always nice to have a bowl appearance on the resume, even if there are 400 of them, plus it gives them the chance to hold a few more practices with their team, and there's nothing coaches like more than practice time. For the players, bowl games are a reward for a hard season, and though some destinations are better than others -- oh boy! Detroit in December! -- at least those players know that wherever they go, they're going to get some free stuff.
Everybody loves free stuff. I have t-shirts in my closet that I never wear, but I keep them because I got them for free. You never know when you'll have to paint your house or apartment, and it's always nice to have one of those free shirts around for such an occasion.
Nice as free shirts are, though, going to a bowl game gets you a lot better swag than just a shirt, and thanks to the Sports Business Journal, we can see what every bowl is giving to the players. I perused the list and came up with some of the best that each game has to offer.
Unfortunately, a lot of the bowl games list "gift suite" as something they're giving to the players, which isn't very specific. Essentially what it means is that players are taken into a suite filled with all sorts of cool stuff, and they're allowed to pick and choose what they'd like. All the BCS bowls list these gift suites, and since those bowls make a ton of money, I would think that they're pretty good.
As for the bowls that list exactly what they're giving away, you could do a lot worse than going to the Alamo Bowl.
This year Oklahoma State and Arizona players will be going home with an XBox 360 Kinect, a giftcard to Gamestop, some headphones, an iPod shuffle, Fossil watch -- if you watch Jersey Shore, you know what happens when somebody gives you a Fossil watch -- a mini helmet and a panoramic team photo. All that and you get to see the Alamo and pretend you're Davy Crockett.
Other bowls, like the Capital One Bowl, aren't quite sure what the players will want, as it knows that differnet people have different tastes. That's why instead of specific gifts, Alabama and Michigan State players will all get a watch from the Timely Watch Co. and a $420 gift certificate to Best Buy.
All in all, just about every bowl game is going to give you a watch and some free clothes, so no matter where you end up, odds are you'll be leaving with something nice.
Still, some are worse than others. Which bowls would I least like to end up in? Well, the R+L Carrier New Orleans Bowl only gives you an iPod touch and a Balfour ring. Well, I already have an iPod, and I don't wear jewelry, so I appreciate the sentiment, but step your game up. The New Mexico Bowl gives away some nice stuff, though I'm not sure what I want with the "pen in box" or the Christmas ornament.
As for the Sun Bowl giving Notre Dame and Miami players a Helen of Troy hair dryer, well, I'm sure that will come in handy.
Then there are the bowl games who won't play along, and like to keep their gifts a secret. This means one of two things, the gifts either suck, or they're really awesome. One of these bowls is the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, which I'm guessing will feature either a fitted Yankees hat, or $100 million dollars.
Of course, these are just my tastes, I have no idea what you're in to. Feel free to peruse the entire list and let us know in the comments which bowls you'd like to play in.