Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Swag Behind the Game Luxury Gift Packages a Part of the Bowl Season

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Swag Behind the Game Luxury Gift Packages a Part of the Bowl Season

Article excerpt

Improbable as this might sound, if next month you see a young man, early 20s, wearing a fleece pullover, walking down the street flipping a coin and trying to find an outlet to use his Helen of Troy hair dryer, you're probably passing a USC Trojan just back from the Sun Bowl.

You see, it's not all about the game in bowl season. It's also about the swag.

The NCAA allows each of the 35 bowls a chance to offer players up to $550 in gifts. Some don't give a lot of other gifts and use most of the $550 for a gift suite where items are assigned a number and players pick items until they've reached a certain number. If the bowl offers a lot of other gifts, the amount a player can "spend" in the suite is less; either way the total value of the gifts for each player must not exceed $550.

The Sun Bowl in El Paso, which is playing host to USC and Georgia Tech, will be offering players a coin, a Timely watch, a Majestic fleece, a Top of the World cap and a Helen of Troy hair dryer. It's almost as if the Sun Bowl folks knew they were getting USC. A Helen of Troy hair dryer?

UCLA can taunt its crosstown rival. The Bruins are going to the Holiday Bowl and will get a Best Buy gift card, a Tourneau watch, a gift certificate from Maui Jim sunglasses and a bowl cap.

How important is the swag? UCLA didn't make players available to chat about the idea because coach Jim Mora wanted the players to be surprised.

Gina Chapin of the Rose Bowl helps pick out gifts each year.

"It's fun for us and we know it's fun for the kids," she said. "We try to gather as much input from the previous years as possible, what players liked and didn't like, and then change.

"I would say everybody would tell you that a ring you can wear your whole adult life is popular, an electronics piece [television, iPad, etc.], a wearable, and some unique gift, that turns out well. …

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