‘Tis the Season: Best College Football Bowl Names of All-Time

The 2012-13 College Football Bowl season is in full swing with 35 bowls scheduled between Dec 17 and January 7. Yesterday’s matchup between the San Diego State Aztecs and the BYU Cougars at the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl got me thinking. The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl is a whopping 7-word title with a length of 39 characters. A close second is the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, coming in at 37 characters.

Is it me or are the bowl names getting longer and stranger?

Have you ever made fun of the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl or wondered why there is a Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl? What do you think are the best and worst bowl names (or corporate sponsorships) in bowl history? Here are my picks:

Worst 5 Bowl Names

TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl (2012): Because nothing says football like filing your taxes.

Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl (1990-96): Just why?

Dallas Football Classic (2011): You cannot create a brand-new bowl and suddenly declare it a ‘classic.’ This year they changed it to the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Not much better.

magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl (2008): magicJack is a USB appliance that lets you make unlimited phone calls.

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl presented by Bridgestone (2003–2007): The longest bowl name ever. One title sponsorship was not enough.

Funniest Retired Bowl Names

Salad Bowl (1947-51): Precursor to the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix.

Epson Ivy Bowl (1988-96): The Ivy League All-Stars played the Japan All-Stars in Japan each year. The Ivy League won every game. The games did not count towards official NCAA records because the two teams were not NCAA-affiliated schools.

Gotham Bowl (1961-62) in NYC: They tried to have one in 1960 as well, but only one team was willing to play.

California Raisin Bowl (1981-91): Naming rights purchased by the California Raisin Advisory Board.

Others (I am not making these up): Bluebonnet Bowl, Cherry Bowl, Cigar Bowl, Glass Bowl, Oil Bowl, Oyster Bowl, Pecan Bowl, Pelican Bowl, Refrigerator Bowl, Shrine Bowl, Tobacco Bowl, and Vulcan Bowl

Top 5 “What is that company?” Bowls

Ourhouse.com Florida Citrus Bowl (2000): Apparently, Ourhouse.com now redirects you to Amazon’s Home & Kitchen department.

Culligan Holiday Bowl (1998-2001): Culligan is a water treatment company in Illinois.

Insight.com Bowl (1996-2011): Insight Enterprises is a business to business technology provider.

Roady’s Truck Stops Humanitarian Bowl (2007-09): Nearly 350 locations in 45 states!

USF&G Sugar Bowl (1987-95): The United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company (Financial Services) went out of business in 1998. They also sponsored the USF&G Classic at English Turn Golf and Country Club in the PGA.

Name Changes in Bowls

The Poinsettia Bowl seems unique in that it has had the same corporate sponsor since its establishment in 2005. How volatile are bowl names?

Bowl comparison chart

A few more interesting facts:

Corporate sponsorships did not appear until the 1980s so the older bowls have fewer sponsorships per year.

The average sponsorship looks to be 5-6 years.

The average bowl is over 30 years old. However, only one-third of them are over 30 years old.

The BCS National Championship has had 6 sponsors (tied for the most) since its advent in 1998. Its purpose is to make money.

What are your picks for best and worst bowl names?

(A version of this post by Max Kaplan first appeared on the Princeton Sports Analytics blog)

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