TIGER KICKOFF: Bowl season means player gifts

Thursday, December 22, 2011 | 11:36 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Santa lives in Shreveport.

Just ask the Missouri football team.

Wherever bowls are played, bowl committees are doing their Santa impressions, doling out flat screen TVs, acoustic guitars, PlayStation 3’s and watches just to name a few.

That’s just a sampling of some of the gifts the bowls will be giving to their participants this bowl season. The list is all over the place, ranging from the elaborate (the Rose Bowl allows players to choose from a list that includes flat screen TVs, an arcade style basketball game and a leather recliner) to the local (Hawaii Bowl participants receive “aloha” shirts and beach towels) to the strange (the Sun Bowl is giving hair dryers and souvenir coins as part of its package).

Missouri’s players had the opportunity to choose out of a “gift suite” for their “big present” for this year’s Independence Bowl. Over the past few years, bowls have stopped trying to guess what players want and started giving them their pick of a few big ticket items.

This year’s favorite: a recliner.

“I had to get a recliner,” senior running back De’Vion Moore said.  “I need it to go with my Blu-ray 3D surround sound system.”

Senior linebacker Luke Lambert was a little more practical in his reasoning.

“I need to furnish my next living space,” he said.

Included in the players’ package is the obligatory apparel. This year, players will receive Independence Bowl watches and hats.

During Sunday’s final practice, coach Gary Pinkel was sporting an Insight Bowl fleece, received last year.

“I usually don’t wear too much of this stuff, I just threw it on because it’s warm. I got drawers full of it, and actually, I give most of it away,” Pinkel said. “It’s always good when you have too much bowl stuff.”

The bowls are permitted to give up to $550 in gifts to players and coaches, according to NCAA rules. In fact, there are a number of different awards that you might not be aware of.

Schools are permitted to give gifts worth up to $225 to underclassmen and $425 to seniors for participation in intercollegiate athletics. Participation in a conference tournament means that the school and conference can combine to give another gift of up to $375 per player. The list continues on page 233 of the NCAA’s Division I manual.

The gifts may not include cash, gift cards redeemable for cash, or memberships to sports clubs or country clubs, according to the manual.

Missouri’s players have received excellent gifts in the past. A favorite among several players was the iPod Touch they received at the 2008 Cotton Bowl, soon after the item had been released.

“It’s out in my truck right now,” Lambert said.

Senior defensive tackle Terrell Resonno gives his bowl gifts to family members, giving an iPod touch to his sister and a set of speakers to his parents.

In this case, it might be time to add the Resonnos to the list of people that believe Santa makes his home in Shreveport.

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