by Evan Stair
We have almost come to the end of another college football season. It is time for the second season; the bowl season. In the early 1980’s college football highlighted about a third of its teams in classics such as the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and the Sugar Bowl.
Other secondary bowls included the Blue-Bonnet bowl in Houston, the Tangerine Bowl in Florida, the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, the Hall of Fame bowl in Birmingham, the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, the Sun Bowl in El Paso, and the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe. These bowls held their own for years. Other bowls came and went. The Cherry Bowl is an example of a bowl with great promise that never became a classic.
The NCAA demanded a bigger payoff to the participating schools that performed in these classics. Some bowls such as the long-standing Blue-Bonnet Bowl folded. Others resorted to the unthinkable. They resorted to corporate sponsorship. The first that I remember was the Florida Citrus Council Florida Citrus Bowl. That makes sense. Then there was the Cotton Bowl discretely sponsored by the Cotton Council and the FTD Rose bowl.
Then it happened. The Sugar Bowl bowed to the pressure and allowed a corporate sponsor to take over. The USF&G Sugar Bowl. Wouldn’t the C&H Sugar Bowl make more sense? Things began to degrade. The Sun Bowl (which is usually played in a driving snow storm) became The John Hancock Bowl. This was sneaky as they were using a famous patriot as a sponsor. Innocent sounding but this was the first corporate sponsor to actually change the name of a bowl to a corporate name. It opened the door for the Blockbuster Bowl. Again an innocent name. It could be a “blockbuster of a bowl game.” However the bowl vanished after the Blockbuster Video rental company dropped its corporate sponsorship.
Here is a review of this years games:
• Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: I like this type of corporate sponsorship. Corn Chips are synonymous with Festivals are they not? My recommendation: The Fiesta bowl sponsored by Tostitos.
• The Rose Bowl presented by AT&T: Is anyone ready to drop the Tournament of Roses Parade and change it to the Tournament of Phones Parade? My recommendation: The Granddaddy of them all… “The Rose Bowl sponsored by the AARP.” Just kidding. The Rose Bowl sponsored by FTD.
• The Nokia Sugar Bowl: Another Phone Bowl. Has not the Rose Bowl cornered the market on telephone service? My Recommendation: The Sugar Bowl sponsored by C&H Pure Cane Sugar.
• The FedEx Orange Bowl: Well I guess one could express ship a few crates of Oranges. My Recommendation: The Orange Bowl sponsored by Tropicania or Orange Crush.
• The Southwestern Bell Cotton Bowl: What is the deal with the Phones Guys? My recommendation: The Cotton Bowl sponsored by the Cotton Council or Levis.
• The CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl: If CompUSA computers were used to calculate the BCS standings I could see this being a good sponsor. However the National Champion won’t be coming out of this bowl game. In fact it is not a BCS game. My recommendation: The Florida Citrus Bowl sponsored by the Florida Citrus Council or Tropicania.
• The Outback Bowl: This one would make a better sponsor for the Gator bowl. What happens if Outback decides that they don’t like spending money on bowl games and I want to sponsor this one? Can I still call it the Outback bowl? I really like the name. My recommendation: Sponsor the Gator bowl.
• The Toyota Gator Bowl: Well maybe if you had Gator leather for the seats? My recommendation: The Gator Bowl sponsored by Outback Restaurants.
• The Chick fil-A Peach Bowl: Can I sell nachos and popcorn at this game or only chicken nuggets? My recommendation: The Peach Bowl sponsored by the Georgia Peach council.
• The Culligan Holiday Bowl: It is guaranteed to rain pure clean water on this game. My recommendation: The Holiday Bowl sponsored by Princess Cruises.
• The Builders Square Alamo Bowl: San Antonio is growing. It is time to add on that wing to the Alamo so the whole city can enjoy the sight of this grand old structure. How about the Alamo bowl sponsored by Builders Square. This one actually fits in a way if you want to keep up the look of the Alamo.
• The Norwest Sun Bowl: I don’t think the sun has ever been in the Northwest has it? My recommendation: The Sun Bowl sponsored by Sun computers or Tropicania Suntan Lotion.
• The Insight.com Bowl: This sounds like a front for a psychic Internet gambling organization. My recommendation: How about the Cactus bowl sponsored by Deep Heat.
• The Sanford Independence Bowl: I didn’t know that Fred Sanford had made enough off of his junk business to sponsor a bowl game. My recommendation: The Independence bowl sponsored by the Armed forces.
• The Music City Bowl: There is no apparent corporate sponsor. This is a good deal.
• The AXA/Equitable Liberty Bowl: My recommendation: The Liberty Bowl sponsored by the U.S. Armed forces.
• The Sunshine Football Classic Bowl: This is a new bowl game. It does not seem to have a corporate sponsor. At least they are not advertising.
• The Micron PC Bowl: Another bowl game sponsor that can take his bowl and run if it decides it does not believe in corporate sponsorship of college athletics. No imagination. My Recommendation: The Electron bowl sponsored by Micro PC.
• The Jeep Aloha Bowl and Jeep Oahu Bowl: Next year sponsored by Auto Zone to get the salt water out of the engine block. It was difficult for the team to drive to Hawaii. The Aloha and Oahu bowls sponsored by Double Mint Gum. This is the first double header bowl game in bowl history.
• The Humanitarian Bowl: Another bowl with no apparent corporate sponsor. I like this one. However it gets pretty cold in Boise, Idaho in December.
• The Ford Motor City Bowl: I drove my Toyota to the Gator bowl, my Jeep to Aloha/Oahu bowls and my Mustang to the Motor City bowl. Note to self: Next year start a new bowl so that I can drive to the Planet Bowl called Saturn. My recommendation: The Motor City bowl sponsored by Ford.
• The Las Vegas Bowl: No apparent corporate sponsor. Then again Las Vegas is a corporation.
In all seriousness, corporate sponsorship of college bowl games is good and necessary. However a more discrete presence would be appreciated by all. In an era where sports and business are becoming more intertwined then it would be refreshing if the corporate sponsor would simply put the corporate title second. For example the Orange Bowl sponsored by Federal Express. Have a little imagination as well. There has to be a better name for the Insight.com Bowl. Call it the Cactus Bowl sponsored by Insight.com. It is played in Tucson, AZ. Remember, the game is for the kids and the fans.
Enjoy the games!