The Washington Post Sunday

A guide to weird bowl game swag

It can’t all be gift cards and shopping sprees when it comes to free stuff

- BY MATT BONESTEEL Excerpted from washington­post.com/ earlylead matt.bonesteel@washpost.com

It’s bowl season, which means it’s the time of year when college football players are rewarded for their seasonlong efforts with a check in the amount of their true market value!

I kid, of course. They get a suite of gifts from bowl game organizers. Under NCAA rules, these swag bags can have a maximum value of $550, and some of them are pretty sweet: There are gift cards and shopping sprees and newfangled electronic­s. Those presents get all the attention, but what about the more pedestrian items?

As usual, the fine folks at Sports Business Journal have compiled a list of gifts given by every bowl game except the Cotton Bowl, which declined to reveal the contents of its swag bag. What follows is a review of the stuff that won’t get much attention, perhaps for good reason.

Pacific Headwear trucker’s cap (New Mexico Bowl): Seeing as how I’m The Washington Post’s Least-Fashionabl­e Employee, I was under the impression that trucker’s caps went out of style in the pre-Obama era. But a simple Google search shows that there is some debate about this. Anyway, North Texas’s and Utah State’s players will get a free trucker’s cap in their swag bags. Perhaps this will make them happy. Perhaps it will not. It’s likely to be a polarizing topic in each team’s locker room.

Dad hat (Las Vegas Bowl): I am a dad, and I have no idea what would constitute a “dad hat,” other than it probably is wholly unfashiona­ble. But according to a 2016 Elle article, a dad hat is, “simply put, a baseball cap. But not a snapback, flatbrim or fitted. A dad hat is a baseball cap that’s canvas or cotton and has a slightly curved brim (not too curved, though) and is probably a little oversized on the wearer. Unless, of course, you’re actually a dad — then it probably fits you perfectly.” Frankly, that sounds like the kind of hat I, a dad, could get behind! I’m not so sure about a bunch of 18- to 21-year-old men from Fresno State and Arizona State, though. Maybe they prefer trucker’s caps.

Fanny pack (Las Vegas Bowl): With dad hats and fanny packs, the Las Vegas Bowl participan­ts will be well outfitted for their next trip to Epcot with the kids.

Fossil watch (no less than 16 bowl games): Fossil clearly has planted its flag as the Official Watch Supplier of Bowl Game Swag Bags. I, too, own a Fossil watch because I am hip to the fashion choices of today’s footballpl­aying youths.

Beach towel (Boca Raton Bowl, Hawaii Bowl, Bahamas Bowl): Scoff at the humble beach towel’s lack of swag, if you must, but if you’re playing a bowl game in Boca, Hawaii or the Bahamas, you’re probably going to need one. Aplus for practicali­ty.

Coin (Frisco Bowl, Sun Bowl): College football players are often secret numismatis­ts, so the players of San Diego State, Ohio, Stanford and Pittsburgh surely will appreciate these coins.

Cowboy hat (Frisco Bowl): Yes, but is it a dad cowboy hat?

Yeti Rambler (Bahamas Bowl, Cheeze-It Bowl): These insulated drinking vessels can run you dang near 100 bucks, which is a small price to pay if you want to make coffee in the morning but not consume it for 18 hours.

Cornhole set (Cheez-It Bowl): You can keep your fancy Super Nintendos and XStations and Playboxes. The best games involve bean bags. Congrats to Cal and TCU.

Life-size Fathead decal of his likeness for each participan­t (Quick Lane Bowl): Cool novelty or daily reminder of that one year when you were forced to spend Christmas in Detroit?

Personaliz­ed bobblehead of each student-athlete (Orange Bowl): The world’s bobblehead makers often struggle to get the likenesses of famous athletes correct. Now imagine trying to capture the essence of Oklahoma’s third-string long-snapper.

Cuff links (Sugar Bowl): The Sugar Bowl swag bag, curated by your grandma.

Frito Lay products (Arizona Bowl): Arkansas State and Nevada also will get a whole bunch of other good swag, such as backpacks with USB ports, Beats ear buds and a Kindle Fire. Bet the chips get opened first.

 ?? NICK WAGNER/ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Oklahoma’s Tre Brown (6) will receive a bobblehead in his likeness thanks to Oklahoma’s Orange Bowl berth.
NICK WAGNER/ASSOCIATED PRESS Oklahoma’s Tre Brown (6) will receive a bobblehead in his likeness thanks to Oklahoma’s Orange Bowl berth.

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