Try wrapping your head around the fact that college football players, who are not allowed to accept money or gifts, get to go to bowl games and accept money and gifts.

Not that we’re complaining. These guys should get showered in gift cards and watches and backpacks for what they put themselves through, and for the millions they make for their schools and conferences. But looking through the list of gift swag that all the 2016-17 bowl games will be giving out to players, it’s hard to understand why that’s okay this once, but not any other time.

(Actually it’s not hard to understand, because college sports are all about money, but we digress.)

The only thing more interesting than trying to rank each college football bowl game every year is trying to rank the gift swag that each bowl game gives out. Let’s separate the Fossil watches from the ESPN beanies.

No. 40 Bowl: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

Swag: “Would not disclose.”
Analysis: What are you hiding, Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic?


No. 39 Bowl: New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Swag: “A variety of New Era products”
Analysis: So… hats? It’s hats, isn’t it?

No. 38 Bowl: Marmot Boca Raton Bowl

Swag: “Gift suite “and other items””
Analysis: Depends largely on what’s going on in the gift suite. We have genuine concerns about “and other items.” Why is that in quotes? Sounds like what someone says at the beginning of a horror movie.

No. 37 Bowl: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Fossil watch
Analysis: “Have fun out there, kids. Here’s a watch. Go get’m.”


No. 36 Bowl: Birmingham Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; ESPN beanie, power charger and USB adapter; souvenir football
Analysis: A corporate-logo hat, a power charger, and football? This is an amazing gift pack for your dad.


No. 35 Bowl: Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Finrod’s Festive Wear holiday sweater; football; beanie
Analysis: A sweater, a hat, and a ball. Hmph.

No. 34 Bowl: Last Vegas Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Oakley backpack; beanie; cap
Analysis: Two hats and a backpack?

No. 33 Bowl: R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Fossil watch
Analysis: Isn’t this what you give people when they retire?


No. 32 Bowl: San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era cap
Analysis: “We asked sponsors to send stuff, this is who responded.”

No. 31 Bowl: National Funding Holiday Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Fossil watch; New Era cap
Analysis: Coulda used more funding, apparently.

No. 30 Bowl: Foster Farms Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Fossil watch; Timbuk2 backpack
Analysis: It’s like a Timbuktu backpack, but different.

No. 29 Bowl: Capitol One Orange Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Tourneau watch; Schutt mini-helmet
Analysis: Guys, you’re the Orange Bowl. You gotta do more than that. At least throw in a sack of tangelo minneolas.


No. 28 Bowl: Rose Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Fossil watch; Ogio backpack; New Era 9Fifty snapback adjustable hat
Analysis: You’re the Rose Bowl, guys. Throw in a gift card to the Cinerama Dome or something.

No. 27 Bowl: Allstate Sugar Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Fossil watch with custom tin; New Era cap
Analysis: Why are some of the biggest bowl games the stingiest with gifts?


No. 26 Bowl: St. Petersburg Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Oakley Turbine sunglasses and Enduro 20 backpack
Analysis: “Here, go take a hike.”

No. 25 Bowl: Gilden New Mexico Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Oakley sunglasses and Enduro 25 backpack; Bluetooth earbuds; beanie; Gilden stadium blanket; cap; selfie stick
Analysis: “I got a warehouse full of these selfie sticks. Help me get rid of them, man.”


No. 24 Bowl: AutoNation Cure Bowl

Swag: Sports watch; warmup jacket and pants; portable charger; Dri-Fit long-sleeve shirt; backpack
Analysis: a.k.a. Whatever we could find in our marketing guy’s trunk.

No. 23 Bowl: Motel 6 Cactus Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Ogio Baja 70 backpack; Fossil watch; mixer bottle
Analysis: “Mixer bottle?” Is that the message we’re sending to this group of predominantly underage college kids, Cactus Bowl?


No. 22 Bowl: Outback Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Fossil watch; coin; cap; beanie; Ogio duffle bag; Big Game autograph football
Analysis: It’s fine. It’s just fine.

No. 21 Bowl: Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Fossil watch; coin; hat; beanie; Ogio duffel bag; Big Game autograph football
Analysis: That sounds like the gift bag I got on my last day at sleepaway camp.


No. 20 Bowl: Foster Farms Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Fossil watch; Timbuk2 backpack
Analysis: It’s like a Timbuktu backpack, but different.

No. 19 Bowl: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Oakley backpack; beanie; football; Proof Eyewear sunglasses
Analysis: Downvote for lack of a sack of potatoes.


No. 18 Bowl: Advocare V100 Texas Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; belt buckle; Adidas backpack; ISlide sandals
Analysis: As a Syracuse fan, I can attest that belt buckle is actually kinda cool.

No. 17 Bowl: Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Amazon Echo Dot; football
Analysis: This game understands that if you’re not going to go for quantity, you gotta go for quality.


No. 16 Bowl: Belk Bowl

Swag: Shopping trip to Belk department store; Fossil watch
Analysis: It’s the vagueness of the store trip that makes us pause. What’s the hook? Are they only allowed to shop in the maternity section?

No. 15 Bowl: Miami Beach Bowl

Swag: Under Armour backpack, hat and sunglasses; ISlide sandals; portable power bank; beach paddle-ball set; football
Analysis: Credit due for the bowl game that themes all of its gifts to its name. It’s Miami Beach. Every gift should be used on Miami Beach. Perfect.


No. 14 Bowl: Popeyes Bahamas Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; S’Well insulated drink bottle; Jabba Bluetooth speakers; drawstring backpack; beach towel; bowl pin
Analysis: Another smart bowl matching gifts to theme. What is it about bowls in close to proximity to beaches that they understand this?

No. 13 Bowl: Dollar General Bowl

Swag: Leather duffel bag; Pure Boom wireless headphones; Wilson souvenir game ball; RTIC SoftPak 40 cooler; Timely Watch Co. watch
Analysis: The one bowl that we’re glad didn’t try to give gifts to match its name.


No. 12 Bowl: PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

Swag: Gift suite or PS4 game and accessory bundle; Ogio Throttle backpack; Fossil watch; football
Analysis: You can’t go wrong with video games. Know your demo.

No. 11 Bowl: TaySlayer Bowl

Swag: Fossil watch; carry-on bag; Under Armour sunglasses; football; bobblehead with player’s face, name and uniform number
Analysis: See, the TaxSlayer Bowl gets it. Sometimes it’s not about the pricey stuff (though the pricey stuff is good). Sometimes, you just really want your own bobblehead.


No. 10 Bowl: Hawai’i Bowl

Swag: Electronics gift suite; Oakley backpack and Holbrook sunglasses; Tori Richard aloha shirt; beach towel; Pro Athletics surf trunks; team performance gear
Analysis: Please make the players play the game in the Tori Richards aloha shirt. It’s all we ask and we ask so little.

No. 9 Bowl: Hyundai Sun Bowl

Swag: Gift suite; Timely Watch Co. Silvertone Watch; Majestic Pro Base fleece pullover; Ogio Politan backpack; Under Armour cap; coin
Analysis: You’ll be well-dressed by the time you leave the Sun Bowl. You’ll also have a coin. So that’s a nice bonus.


No. 8 Bowl: Valero Alamo Bowl

Swag: Apple Watch Nike+; $110 Best Buy gift card; myCharge HubPlus portable charger; team panoramic photo; mini-helmet
Analysis: The Apple Watch is sweet, the Best Buy gift card is solid, the mini-helmet is… perfunctory.

No. 7 Bowl: Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl

Swag: $300 Vanilla Visa gift card by InComm; JBL Bluetooth speaker; Fossil watch; football
Analysis: Hey, a gift card is a gift card. It’s like money, but not.


No. 6 Bowl: Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl

Swag: Red, inflatable “big-lazy” couch; Selco watch; Ogio rucksack; Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats2 headphones with case; No Sweat Specialties socks
Analysis: They should replace the game benches with “big-lazy” couches.

No. 5 Bowl: Russell Athletic Bowl

Swag: $300 Best Buy shopping trip; Timely Watch Co. watch; ISlide sandals; beach towel; athletic performance pullover
Analysis: You’re playing in Camping World Stadium. Where’s the Camping World gift card? Missed opportunity.


No. 4 Bowl: AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Swag: Bass Pro Shops shopping trip; Oculus Pro Team HD binoculars; Bulova watch; Nike athletic shoes, sport sandals, backpack and sunglasses; football
Analysis: On one side, we demand that the Bass Pro Shops shopping trip be recorded and broadcast. On the other hand… a football? These guys do not need another football.

No. 3 Bowl: Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl

Swag: $305 Best Buy shopping trip; Timely Watch Co. watch; EA Sports video game; ISlide sandals; $25 Buffalo Wild Wings gift card
Analysis: We like to imagine that the people at the Citrus Bowl heard the Russell Athletic Bowl was giving away $300 Best Buy gift cards and said, “We can do five bucks better.”


No. 2 Bowl: Quick Lane Bowl

Swag: $200 Best Buy gift card; JBL headphones; life-sized Fathead decal for each participant of his likeness; hoodie; winter hat; Rock ’Em Apparel socks; backpack; vintage football
Analysis: How in the world did the Quick Lane Bowl end up all the way up here? The Best Buy gift card is huge, but it’s the personalized Fathead of each player that really stands out.

No. 1 Bowl: College Football Playoff National Championship Game

Swag: “Iconic gift”

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to