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The best and not-so-best of 2017's college football bowl game gifts for players

Fidget spinners, Hawaiian shirts, Yeti coolers, and more!

The 2017-18 bowl season is upon us, and players who participate in them will get gifts from their games. Players can’t be paid money, per NCAA rules, unlike most other big-revenue sports’ postseasons.

Sports Business Daily gave us the lowdown on everything players will be taking home this year. The majority of bowls stepped up their game from a couple of years ago. With the games happening around the holiday season — and the fact that these players work at this sport 12 months a year — kudos to most of these bowls for giving participants some pretty awesome gifts within the NCAA’s $550 limit.

Bowl gifts that give players some freedom to spend how they want

Citrus Bowl, Notre Dame vs. LSU: $400 Best Buy player shopping trip, Timely Watch Co. watch.

Peach Bowl, Auburn vs. UCF: $300 Vanilla Visa gift card by InComm, Ultimate Ears Wonderboom bluetooth speaker, Fossil watch, football.

Wonderboom Speaker

Camping World Bowl, Virginia Tech vs. Oklahoma State: $400 Best Buy player shopping trip, Timely Watch Co. watch.

Outback Bowl, Michigan vs. South Carolina: Jostens ring, Fossil watch, $125 Best Buy gift card, Outback Steakhouse gift card, hat. Now I’m craving Outback.

Liberty Bowl, Iowa State vs. Memphis: Bass Pro Shops shopping trip, Bulova Caravelle watch, Nike athletic shoes, sport sandals, and backpack, football.

Foster Farms Bowl, Arizona vs. Purdue: Fossil watch, Sony XB950N1 extra bass noise canceling headphones, Timbuk2 backpack, coin, $25 Apple iTunes gift card.

Belk Bowl, Wake Forest vs. Texas A&M: Shopping trip to Belk department store, Fossil watch. Last year, an Arkansas player was suspended from the Belk Bowl after he was accused of shoplifting $260 worth of items on the Belk shopping trip, so hopefully something like that doesn’t happen again!

Gifts that are the most fun

Fiesta Bowl, Washington vs. Penn State: PlayStation PS4 PRO bundle, Fossil watch, Ogio backpack.

Hawaii Bowl, Fresno State vs. Houston: Electronics gift suite, Oakley backpack and sunglasses, Tori Richard aloha shirt, beach towel, Pro Athletics surf trunks, performance T-shirt. Nothing says Hawaii Bowl like a Hawaiian shirt, beach towel, and surf trunks, am I right?

Bahamas Bowl, UAB vs. Ohio: Gift suite, iSlides sandals, drawstring backpack, beach towel, bowl pin.

New Mexico Bowl, Marshall vs. Colorado State: Gift suite, Oakley sunglasses, Oakley 5-Speed backpack, LiT tumbler, beanie, Gildan stadium blanket, cap, fidget spinner.

  1. Sounds like this tumbler is going to be literally lit!

Texas Bowl, Texas vs. Missouri: Gift suite, Academy Sports + Outdoors gift card, Adidas duffel bag, belt buckle. These buckles are Texas as hell, folks.

Bowl gift packages with the most variety

Quick Lane Bowl, Duke vs. NIU: $175 Best Buy gift card, JBL bluetooth headphones, life-sized Fathead decal for each participant of his likeness, Ogio backpack and tag, mini-helmet, hoodie, workout shorts, winter hat, vintage football.

Not only did the Quick Lane Bowl go all out this year, it kept the tradition of giving each player a Fathead decal of himself, like so:

Alamo Bowl, Stanford vs. TCU: Amazon Echo Show, $175 Amazon gift card, Fossil watch, mini-helmet, Rock 'Em socks, team panoramic photo. The Echo Shows are in the $200-300 range, so this isn’t a bad gift.

Cactus Bowl, Kansas State vs. UCLA: Yeti cooler and tumbler, Fossil watch, Ogio backpack, Legendary hat, JBL Flip 4 speaker, blanket. As someone who uses a Yeti tumbler legit every single day, I can say it’s a life-changer. The coolers are sweet, too.

Dollar General Bowl, Appalachian State vs. Toledo: Amazon Echo, Maui Jim sunglasses, Timely Watch Co. watch, Wilson football.

Gifts mostly made up “gift suites,” which can mean some different things

What are gift suites exactly? They’re private events in which participants can pick from a variety of items — from electronics to jewelry and even furniture — worth up to a total of $550.

Game participants, and often bowl VIPs, are given an order form and allowed to select a gift, or gifts, up to a value that is predetermined by each bowl, not to exceed the NCAA limit.

The NCAA allows each bowl to award up to $550 worth of gifts to 125 participants per school. Schools can, and usually do, buy additional packages that they can distribute to participants beyond that 125 limit. In addition, participants can receive awards worth up to $400 from the school and up to $400 from the conference for postseason play, covering both conference title games and any bowl game.

There’s no real specification when it comes to gift suites. Some might be good. Some might be not so great.

  • New Orleans Bowl, North Texas vs. Troy: Gift suite, Fossil watch.
  • Frisco Bowl, SMU vs. Louisiana Tech: Gift suite, Fossil watch.
  • Gasparilla Bowl, FIU vs. Temple: Gift suite, Oakley backpack, neck pillow.
  • Idaho Potato Bowl, Central Michigan vs. Wyoming: Gift suite, Oakley sunglasses, Under Armour backpack, beanie.
  • Birmingham bowl, Texas Tech vs. USF: Gift suite, Oakley sunglasses, beanie, Big Game football.
  • Independence Bowl, Southern Miss vs. FSU: Gift suite, Timely Watch Co. watch, New Era skull cap, football.
  • Holiday Bowl, Washington State vs. Michigan State: Gift suite, Fossil watch, Ogio backpack.
  • Sun Bowl, NC State vs. Arizona State: Gift suite, Timely Watch Co. watch, Majestic Pro Base fleece pullover, Ogio Politan backpack, Under Armour cap, coin.
  • Sugar Bowl, Alabama vs. Clemson: Gift suite, Fossil watch, New Era Cap, Rock 'Em socks, panoramic game photo.
  • Armed Forces Bowl, Army vs. San Diego State: Gift suite.
  • Heart of Dallas Bowl, Utah vs. WVU: Gift suite, football.
  • Music City Bowl, Kentucky vs. Northwestern: Gift suite, Fossil watch.
  • TaxSlayer Bowl, Louisville vs. Mississippi State: Gift suite, watch, Ogio backpack, beanie.
  • Cameilla Bowl, Arkansas State vs. Middle Tennessee: Gift suite, Fossil watch, beanie, Ogio duffel bag, Big Game autograph football.
  • Arizona Bowl, Utah State vs. New Mexico State: Gift suite, watch, Ogio backpack, beanie.
  • Orange Bowl, Miami vs. Wisconsin: Gift suite, Tourneau watch, Lyfe Brand hat, Ice Shaker water bottle and shaker cup.
  • Las Vegas Bowl, Boise State vs. Oregon: Gift suite, Oakley backpack and tag, hat, Rock ‘Em socks, beanie.
  • Rose Bowl, Georgia vs. Oklahoma: Gift suite; Fossil watch; Ogio backpack; New Era 9Fifty snapback adjustable hat.

The just-fine ones

These aren’t the most flashy, but they are still gifts, nonetheless.

  • Cure Bowl, Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State: Watch, backpack, warm-up pants and jacket, Dri-Fit long-sleeved shirt, hat.
  • Military Bowl, Virginia vs. Navy: Rock ‘Em socks, Under Armour beanie and backpack.

And lastly, the vaguest of bowl gifts

  • Cotton Bowl, USC vs. Ohio State: “Would not disclose.”
  • Boca Raton Bowl, FAU vs. Akron: Online gift suite "and an assortment of bowl-branded items."
  • New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Variety of New Era products.
  • National Championship: “Iconic gift.”