FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Do you need a GoPro camera? That will be seven points, and you can pack it in your suitcase and take it home with you.
Do you need a new piece of furniture or a television for your apartment? That’ll also be seven points. But it won’t be delivered off campus. You’ll have to pick it up from the football facility and find a way to get it back to your living room.
“I got a recliner,” Michigan defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow said Wednesday. “The only problem is moving it from Glick Field House to our houses, or wherever. But I spend a lot of time in a recliner, so I decided to get one for myself.”
Welcome to the bowl game gift suites, where players receive the spoils of their respective bowl games, even before the victors emerge. At the Orange Bowl in South Florida, Michigan and Florida State players and coaches visited two bowl suites, in addition to receiving a Tourneau watch and a Schutt mini-football helmet that commemorated the Orange Bowl.
Each December, SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily publishes a list of college football bowl games and the gifts they give players and coaches from the two participating teams.
Of the 40 bowl games this season (excluding the College Football Playoff championship game), 24 offer bowl gift suites. Instead of giving players a box of goodies — gifts that might include watches, Nike or Adidas sweatsuits, video-game consoles or designer sunglasses — players now have their choice of what they can take back (or have shipped back) to their college towns.
The NCAA allows bowl committees to give gift packages of up to $550 per player. Schools and conferences also buy gifts for players on bowl teams — Michigan was sporting new Nike sweatsuits and got new Nike Jordan-brand shoes. (Nike is the official outfitter for Michigan’s athletic teams.)
In the bowl gift suites, players are assigned 16 points to “spend” on gifts, and players redeem a certain number of points for specific gifts. Each gift is assigned a number of points … such as the seven-point recliner, which on a retail basis can start at $199.
“The bigger gifts are worth more points, and so are the gifts that cost more,” Michigan wide receiver Amara Darboh said. “As it goes lower, there are fewer points.
“I’ve looked through it a couple times. I’m not sure what I’m going to get. I was going to get some headphones but I got some for Christmas, and now, I don’t know. I might get an Xbox for my nephews, but I’m not sure what I’ll get myself.”
Also among Michigan’s bowl-gift pickings? Fifty-inch, flat-screen televisions, which at Best Buy have a retail value that starts at $250. Michigan fullback Khalid Hill said a television was worth eight points, and he planned to have a TV shipped back to Ann Arbor, Mich., courtesy of the Orange Bowl.
“Because my TV is pretty small,” Hill said. “I want to make sure I’ve got a good TV.”
Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois said Wednesday morning that at last year’s Peach Bowl, he chose a mini speaker set and an Xbox controller.
“It’s one of the nice perks of a bowl game,” Francois said. “You don’t get to be home with your family, and that’s important. But the bowl gifts take the place of that, and they do a good job.”
However, he also added that he had yet to visit the Orange Bowl gift suite. It was in his plans for Thursday.
He’s been really focused on football instead of freebies this week, hasn’t he?
“Absolutely,” Francois said. “I’ve been trying to stay focused.”