This is the last true college football bowl season, as the NCAA transitions to a play-off system in 2014. Football fans hope and pray all season that their team will survive to play again in December – or January, if they’re lucky.
And the players hope and pray for the same thing, of course. Just like the fans, they hope for one more gameday, 60 more minutes on the field, and immeasurable team spirit. However, the players get something extra with any bowl appearance – swag.
The NCCA allows each bowl, regardless of rank, to give up to $550 worth of gifts to 125 players, coaches and assistants at each participating school.
“We have 18 bowls and four BCS bowls, plus the National Championship,” said Chyna Ward, Performance Award Center Director of Sports Logistics. “The National Championship is a six tier and this (Ole Miss) is an eight tier. All that really means is that at the bowl site they will get more items. The Music City bowl just elected to have a lot more options for the kids.”
Before the team leaves for its bowl game destination, PAC sends a representative to set up a gift suite with the options chosen for that bowl. Gifts are organized into $50 incremental tiers. So, a Tier 1 gift is worth $50, Tier 2 is worth $100, and so on. Players can choose any combination of gifts up to a certain point value predetermined by the bowl.
For example, since the Music City Bowl decided on eight tiers or eight points. That’s $400 worth of gifts that the players take home. This year, the remaining $150 was an official Music City Bowl Fossil watch. Each bowl decides its own tier structure for its gifts, but everything adds up to the $550 set by the NCAA.
In preparation, PAC’s sports marketing division starts researching and choosing that year’s most exciting and most popular gadgets, watches, Panini presses, and mountain bikes to pitch as swag options to the bowl organizations.
“We will start in May of each year trying to figure out what is the hottest, newest and most exciting item. Most bowls want ten to twelve items per tier to initially choice from,” Ward said. “A lot of them with go through, cull some things and some will add, but we try to give them enough options per tier. We go from anywhere from electronics to furniture to bikes.”
Ole Miss players were presented with 81 gift options spread over the eight tiers. The gifts range from Skull Candy ear-buds (Tier 1) to a Sony Cybershot smartphone lens (Tier 5) to a McLaren Big Man’s recliner (Tier 7).
But it isn’t always about the gifts to the players. College football teams work year round to make it to a bowl game. It means more than just free gifts.
“It is really special because the bowl committee gave us a chance to pick out our gifts and things,” Rebel quarterback Bo Wallace said. “It’s kind of unique that we get to pick out or gifts rather than just having gifts given to us.”
The senior players share in Wallace’s sentiments. Running back Jeff Scott said he wishes he would be around a few more seasons to participate in team’s upward trend.
It means a lot with this being my fourth year and me being a senior,” Scott said. “I did not get to experience this my freshman and sophomore years here. The season was pretty tough. Then coach Freeze came along with a lot of other guys and we started winning. It is a blessing to be able to receive all of these gifts; it’s fun. From on out, I want to see this program going up.”
– Kate Sinervo, Managing Editor, and Adam Brown, Sports Editor, at HottyToddy.com