• In the latest Weekend Read, we highlight the best (and worst!) bowl game gifts, look back on how Barry Sanders found out about his Heisman win and pick our favorite stories of the week.
By The SI Staff
December 14, 2018

Though they all have the same maximum value of $550, college football bowl game gift packages are not all created equal. Eric Single ranked all 39 packages from best to worst earlier this week, but I want to take a more narrow view and look at the best and worst individual items contained within each package.

Five best

5. $425 Amazon gift card (Alamo Bowl)

This is easily the most practical gift on the list this year. Do you need a new miniature vacuum to clean up your dorm? A pair of warm boots for winter in Pullman (Was.) or Ames (Iowa)? Kitchenware for life after graduation? You can get all of it with an Amazon gift card. Although, you’ll probably end up blowing it on electronics—and that’s fine.

4. $400 Best Buy gift card (both Camping World Bowl and Citrus Bowl)

So many other bowl games are giving players high-end electronics, but wouldn’t it be so much better to go to Best Buy yourself with $400 to spend on whatever you want?

3. PS4 package (Fiesta Bowl)

Video game consoles are expensive. A PS4 will run you between $300 and $400, depending on the model. That’s not the kind of money college students are willing to throw around too frequently. Sony is also hooking the players up with games, which is clutch. (RIP NCAA Football, though.)

2. Personalized bobblehead (Orange Bowl)

Creating a bobblehead in a person’s likeness can be tough (just ask John Wall), so I don’t expect the Orange Bowl committee to actually go through the trouble of making plastic renderings of 200 football players. Still, even if it’s just a bobblehead with the player’s jersey number and the face obscured by a facemask, that’s pretty sweet.

1. Personalized Fathead (Quick Lane Bowl)

How many proud moms are going to decorate their homes with life-sized posters of their sons?

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Five worst

5. Amazon Echo (Peach Bowl, Gator Bowl)

Allowing the world’s richest man to listen in on your life is the plot of a rejected ’80s B-movie.

4. Montgomery pen (New Mexico Bowl)

I can count on one hand the number of times per month I have to use a pen. Part of living in 2018 is you never have to write anything down by hand. At some point in the next five years I’ll probably lose the ability to write anything but my own name. College students probably use pens reasonably often for keeping notes in class, but the ideal note-taking pen is one you can idly stick in your mouth when you start daydreaming, not one that costs $25.

3. Autographed football (Boca Raton Bowl)

Who is autographing the football?

2. Belt Buckle (Texas Bowl)

Commemorative belt buckles are pretty cool and the Baylor players’ friends will surely be impressed when the Bears return to Texas sporting their sweet buckles. But their opponent is Vanderbilt, the most cosmopolitan school in the SEC, whose roster is filled with guys from Southern California and the East Coast. Freshman running back Mitchell Pryor is from Darien, Conn., where I’m pretty sure someone would call the police if they saw you wearing a Texas-sized belt buckle.

1. Dopp kit (Cure Bowl)

Apparently “dopp kit” is a term Americans use to describe a bag of toiletries. Which Americans? I’ve never heard that before. The only players who are going to be excited about receiving this are the ones who forgot their toothbrushes at home.

By Dan Gartland

Recommended Reading

• Our Sportsperson of the Year goes to ... the 2018 Warriors. It's harder than ever to build a dynasty, but the Warriors have done it. How? By never losing sight of the little things. (By Chris Ballard)

• Scott Boras is quite the showman. But can he sell Bryce Harper? It’s looking more difficult than ever. (By Tom Verducci)

• The eighth episode of Fall of a Titan: The Steve McNair Story is out. Give a listen to our serialized SI True Crime podcast here.

• Negotiating baseball trades is challenging enough. It becomes an even bigger problem when nobody has any cell service. (By Stephanie Apstein)

• There seems to be a giant momentum swing in the quest for an eight-team College Football Playoff. (By Andy Staples)

Vault Photo of the Week: Barry Sanders Learns of His Heisman Victory ... on TV ... in Japan

After stringing together one of the greatest seasons in college football history, Barry Sanders likely knew the 1988 Heisman Trophy was his. But he couldn't accept the award in person. Oklahoma State traveled to Japan to play Texas Tech in the Coca-Cola Classic, so Sanders and head coach Pat Jones watched the announcement while seated on the other side of the world. 

SI photographer Heinz Kluetmeier captured the moment above.

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Best of the Rest

• Your phone’s apps are tracking your every move and selling that data to advertisers. The New York Times goes in depth on this extremely dystopian trend.

• Speaking of which, maybe Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) was right about technology’s negative impact on the world. His modern acolytes—followed in this New York Magazine story by John H. Richardson—certainly think so.

• Rae Carruth is out of prison, living in Pennsylvania and had a long chat with Charlotte Observer reporter Scott Fowler, who knocked on his door.

• The 30th anniversary of the Lockerbie bombing is approaching and Craig Williams of BBC has a wonderfully packaged retrospective.

• Almost every bit of terminology the Sixers use is named after a different person, Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report writes. As many as 300 unique keywords are used to describe plays and actions within those plays.

Gift Guide Season

With the holiday season underway, your wallet's about to get a little thinner. Over the next few newsletters we'll highlight one of our gift guides to make that year-end shopping a little bit easier.

This week head over to our list of the Best Gifts For the Man Who Has Everything and Wants Nothing.

Ticket Stub Diary

Courtesy of Uncommon Goods

If you’re considering giving the gift of tickets to a game or concert—or if he already has season tickets to his favorite local team—this ticket stub diary is a great add-on present or stocking stuffer. Clear sleeves and acid-free pages are sure to preserve all of the memories.

Editor's note: What kind of stories and content would you like to see in the Weekend Read? Let's chat at SIWeekendRead@gmail.com.

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