The NCAA is an odd organization. You can’t give an athlete a ride to the airport without it potentially being seen as an “improper benefit,” but football players going to a bowl game can legally be given all kinds of crap with no questions asked.
And, examining the list of the schwag that’s being handed out, the sting of going to the Poinsettia or Humanitarian Bowl is somewhat offset by the sweet gifts you’ll get for showing up.
After the jump, a look at the best and worst bowl gifts.
SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL has the list, which is dominated by SONY products. As you might expect, electronic gadgets are high on the list of 18-22 year-old dudes. At the Orange Bowl and BCS Championship games, players will get to hang out in the SONY Suite:
FedEx Orange Bowl officials have reserved a suite at each of the team hotels, the Westin Diplomat and Fontainebleau, and plan to stock them exclusively with Sony Electronics products. On the night that each of the teams arrives in town, the players will be invited to the suite, handed a folio that not coincidentally features their school colors and is emblazoned with the bowl logo, and given what is basically a $300 credit line. Players can check off from a list in the folio the items that they want (up to $300 in total value), and the gifts will be delivered to the addresses of their choice.
And if you wonder where the payout money goes that’s awarded to participating bowl schools, it appears that some of it goes to…buying more stuff:
“I don’t even need to know how many people will be coming through the doors,” Cooperstein said. “The NCAA allows each bowl to award up to $500 worth of gifts to 125 participants per school. Schools always bring more than that and pay for it on their dime. We’ll make up 500 folios and order forms for each school.”
Other than the BCS games in Miami, let’s take a look at some examples of the best and worst gifts being handed out this year (there’s more than I can list):
• Las Vegas Bowl: Wii System, Oakley sunglasses
• Poinsettia Bowl: 8GB iPod Touch, $50 Best Buy gift card
• Champs Sports Bowl and Capital One Bowl: $400 of spending at Best Buy
• Alamo Bowl: 80GB PS3 with game
• Insight Bowl: Vizio 26″ LCD TV
• Sugar Bowl: SONY Blu-Ray player
• EagleBank Bowl: 50-by-60 inch custom woven EagleBank Bowl afghan
• Rose Bowl and New Mexico Bowl: One-year subscription to ESPN The Magazine
• Sun Bowl: Brut hair dryer
• Orange Bowl and BCS Championship: Crocs
• Chick-fil-A Bowl: Chick-fil-A gift card (Actually, what am I saying? Chick-fil-A rules.)
So, there you have it. The BCS title game’s SONY spree is nearly canceled out by giving out a bunch of those ridiculous plastic shoes. And an EagleBank Bowl afghan? Why don’t we just box those up and send them to Ghana right now. And way to stick your neck out for the $20 subscription to ESPN The Mag, there, Rose Bowl.