The Sun Bowl isn’t just college football’s second-oldest bowl game, tied with the Sugar and Orange. it’s also a game with a tradition of providing hair care for the mothers and girlfriends of its participants.
Having been there last season, as well, Georgia Tech players know the routine. Among the bowl gifts given to participants in the Sun Bowl, where Tech will play USC Dec. 31, is perhaps the oddest present of all 35 bowls – a hair dryer.
When told last year about the hair dryer, defensive end Izaan Cross said, “I was like, O.K., my mom gets another Christmas present.”
By NCAA rule, up to 125 bowl participants per team can receive up to $550 worth of gifts from bowl game organizers. Typically, the most awarded gifts are watches, gift cards and gift suites, in which players are offered a variety of merchandise. This year, the Sun Bowl package also includes a Timely watch, Majestic fleece, Top of the World cap and a coin in addition to the hair dryer. The $350 gift suite from last year’s game, when Tech played Utah, is no longer.
The hair dryer has a story. The hair dryers are made by Helen of Troy, headquartered in El Paso, Texas, site of the game. The company has been a long-time supporter of the game.
For the Yellow Jackets, largely a close-cropped lot, the hair dryer was a re-gift last year, and likely will be again.
“My mom was asking for it, so she’ll probably get it,” center Jay Finch said.
Said Buzz Preston, Tech’s clean-pated wide receivers coach, “I surely don’t need it.”
Outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu was one of the few players to put the hair dryer to use. He uses it to dry clothes that he hand washes.
“Or if I’m about to go out and I iron a shirt and water comes out on the shirt, I use the hair dryer to dry it up,” Attaochu said. “It’s handy.”
Another was safety Coray Carlson, who went to the Sun Bowl last year having grown out his hair since the start of the season.
“I thought it was kind of funny because everyone on the team was, like, What am I going to do with this?” he said. “In the back of my head, I was like, Oh, nice.”
Alas, Carlson recently buzz cut his shoulder-length hair, donating his 11-inch tresses to Locks of Love, the nonprofit that uses the hair to make wigs for children with medical hair loss.
“Maybe I’ll try giving it to my girlfriend or something,” he said. “I’m pretty sure hers broke or something.”
Hair dryer aside, the Sun Bowl took care of players last year with its gift suite. Long snapper Tyler Morgan called the recliner he picked out his best bowl gift from his first three bowl trips. It sits in his living room in front of the TV, right next to the one belonging to Finch, his roommate.
“We each go home and relax, just like old guys,” Morgan said.
B-back David Sims’ all-time favorite gift was from a gift suite at the Orange Bowl, a Sony surround sound speaker set that he still uses every day.
“That was our first time, so I was like a kid in a candy store,” he said.
From the same bowl, Cross picked out a camcorder.
“I think I gave it to my mom,” she said. “I think she broke it.”
It surpassed the fate, at least, of safety Jemea Thomas’ hair dryer.
“I have no idea,” he said. “I really don’t know what I did with it.”
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Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog