Today is the first day of the 2016-17 college football bowl schedule. Here’s how to watch the Gildan New Mexico, Las Vegas, Raycom Media Camellia, AutoNation Cure, and R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowls, and what to know about them.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
What: The New Mexico Bowl has been played annually since 2006 at University Stadium on the campus of the University of New Mexico. It has tie-ins with the Mountain West Conference and Conference USA.
Who: The 2016 New Mexico Bowl pits New Mexico of the Mountain West against Texas-San Antonio of C-USA. The Roadrunners, coached by former LSU running backs coach Frank Wilson, are making their first bowl appearance ever.
Where: Albuquerque, New Mexico. Yes, UTSA’s first bowl appearance ever is coming in their opponent’s home stadium.
When: 2 p.m., December 17
Why and how: New Mexico Bowl executive director Jeff Siembieda was former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson’s deputy director of the New Mexico Sports Authority — part of the New Mexico Tourism Department, not the only Sports Authority in New Mexico — before joining ESPN in 2006, when the New Mexico Bowl was created by ESPN. The New Mexico Bowl is the only annually nationally televised sporting event in the state of New Mexico, per a Wikipedia summary that ends with mentions of the bowl’s charitable efforts that could have been written by public relations staffers, and the state and ESPN probably both benefit from its continued existence.
What do the players get? Gift suite, Oakley sunglasses and Enduro 25 backpack, Bluetooth earbuds, beanie, Gildan stadium blanket, cap, selfie stick.
How much is that worth? I’d ballpark that at about $900. The Oakley glasses and backpack are probably worth $200 combined, and Bluetooth earbuds could be worth $100, but the beanie, blanket, cap, and stick are probably about $100 combined, and if the gift suite is from presenting sponsor Gildan, it’s probably socks.
Las Vegas Bowl
What: The Las Vegas Bowl has been played annually since 1992 at Sam Boyd Stadium, the home field of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It has tie-ins with the Mountain West Conference and Pac-12 Conference.
Who: The 2016 Las Vegas Bowl pits 9-3 Houston of the American Athletic Conference against 10-3 San Diego State, the champion of the Mountain West. Houston is replacing a Pac-12 team because the conference had only six bowl-eligible teams, two of them contractually tied to New Year’s Six bowls; the Las Vegas Bowl decided to invite the Cougars instead.
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada. Duh.
When: 3:30 p.m., December 17
Why and how: The former California Bowl, which was played in Fresno, California through the 1980s, lost NCAA certification in 1992 thanks to a funding shortfall that included the bowl owing $49,000 in stadium rent and not having made a scheduled $50,000 donation to a children’s hospital at the time of its decertification. But that funding shortfall had much to do with Fresno State, the bowl’s home team, moving from the Big West Conference to the Western Athletic Conference, spurring the Big West and Mid-American Conferences to move their bowl to Las Vegas. Neither conference has been affiliated with the bowl since 1996, and the Big West has not sponsored college football since 2000, but that’s how the Las Vegas Bowl came to be. (Oh, also: ESPN owns it now, having purchased it in 2001 from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, which runs LasVegas.com and owns the registered trademark on the phrase “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”)
What do the players get? Gift suite, Oakley backpack, beanie, cap. And a trip to Las Vegas, of course, which is just priceless.
How much is that worth? Maybe $700, if the gift suite is especially rich? The backpack, beanie, and cap can’t be worth much more than $100 in total, and it’s unclear who provided the gift suite, as the Las Vegas Bowl is one of very few bowls without a name sponsor.
Should I watch? Sure. Houston was pretty good and is probably motivated to show it was not simply a product of Tom Herman’s coaching, and the Cougars’ tough run defense will try to stop San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey from breaking the all-time FBS rushing record, something he will do by gaining 108 yards. (Of course, that record is maintained by the body that certifies all these bowls, but doesn’t think stats from prior to 2002 should count, because ... reasons.) As postseason-opening bowls go, this is one of the best matchups possible. Plus, there’s always the potential for one or both teams laying a massive egg in a game played after a number of days young men may have spent enjoying Las Vegas.
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
What: The Raycom Media Camellia Bowl has been played annually since 2014 at the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. It has tie-ins with the MAC and the Sun Belt Conference.
Who: The 2016 Camellia Bowl pits Appalachian State against Toledo in a battle of 9-3 teams.
Where: The Cramton Bowl, in Montgomery, Alabama — a 21,000-seat stadium that has not regularly hosted contests above the high school level since 2001, but which nevertheless received a $10 million renovation in 2011. The Cramton Bowl has history, as the first stadium in the South to host a college football game played under lights and as the long-time venue for the Blue-Gray Classic — an all-star game that was populated by players from teams from northern and western states and players from teams in former Confederate states, played many of its games in the thick of bowl season on Christmas Day, and yet somehow survived until the 21st century.
When: 5 p.m., December 17
Why and how: I mean, that $10 million renovation had to pay off one way or another, right? ESPN owns the Camellia Bowl, and purchased the ACC Network name and rights from the Montgomery-headquarted Raycom, which probably enjoys having a football game in its backyard.
What do the players get? Gift suite, Fossil watch, coin, hat, beanie, Ogio duffel bag, Big Game autograph football. And a trip to Montgomery, which is just priceless.
How much is that worth? North of $500, south of $1,000? The Fossil watches are probably $150 at minimum, and the Ogio bags could be pricey, but a commemorative coin is a pathetic gift to players who would probably prefer coins they could spend, and giving football players footballs designed to be autographed is backwards.
Should I watch? I guess? Both teams are in the top 35 of S&P+, making this one of the better bowls between teams outside the Power Five, even though non-partisan fans probably could not name a single player on either roster.
AutoNation Cure Bowl
What: The AutoNation Cure Bowl has been played annually since 2015 in Orlando. It has tie-ins with the American and Sun Belt Conferences.
Who: The 2016 Camellia Bowl pits 7-5 Arkansas State against 6-6 UCF.
Where: Camping World Stadium in Orlando, which will host three bowls this year ... but not the Camping World Bowl, because that would make too much damn sense.
When: 7 p.m., December 17
Why and how: I’m just going to quote Wikipedia here, because ... you’ll see.
In the fall of 2007, college football in Orlando experienced a surge of support thanks to the completion of a new on-campus stadium at the University of Central Florida. The community enthusiasm inspired a group of Orlando leaders and philanthropists, many of which were UCF alums, to bring a new college bowl game to Orlando and to make it different by directly tying it to a charitable cause.
Among those initial supporters were the founding Board of Director members and Advisory Board members: Mack Mclaughlin, Alan Fidelo, Joe Mckinney, Jeff Lagos, Dave Almstead, Joe Hornstein, Megan Dowdy, Scott Rose, Alan Morrison, Mike Foristall, George Lamelza, and Executive Director, Alan Gooch.
Through years of experience working with and supporting college athletics, Florida Citrus Sports and the NCAA College Football Bowl system, this group knew that each college bowl game donated its profits to a charitable cause. However, the general public typically is unaware of which charitable causes are being supported. To separate this bowl from the rest, the founding board wanted the bowl game to be different, to allow the public to support the game as well as a significant cause. To do this it was decided the cause would be incorporated into the game title. As a result, the AutoNation Cure Bowl was born.
The inaugural Cure Bowl was played 2015. The game currently features opponents from The American and the Sun Belt Conference. Rather than play at Bright House Networks Stadium on the campus of UCF, it was decided to hold the game at the newly-renovated Camping World Stadium in downtown Orlando.
I feel bad for the undergrad whose B- paper was cannibalized for that.
What do the players get? Sports watch, warmup jacket and pants, portable charger, Dri-Fit long-sleeve shirt, backpack. (What, no gift suite?)
How much is that worth? Eh, probably less than $400. The watch is $100ish, the clothes are maybe a bit over $100, the backpack about $75. But a portable charger? Man, that must be worth like $25!
Should I watch? Not unless you like watching bad teams score points in games that do not matter at all to anyone? Kudos to the organizers for naming this bowl the Cure Bowl to be specific about the charitable aims of the bowl but forgetting that there are literally hundreds of things that can be cured, by the way. (Serious note: Good for them on partnering with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and not the pink-washing, PR-heavy Susan G. Komen Foundation.)
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
What: The New Orleans Bowl has been played annually since 2001. It has tie-ins with C-USA and the Sun Belt.
Who: The 2016 New Orleans Bowl pits 6-6 Southern Mississippi against 6-6 Louisiana. One team leaves with a losing record this season! College football is great!
Where: The Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. The Mercedes-Benz name being on the Superdome, a 45-year-old structure that has been battered by age and an act of nature’s immense fury and yet still works just fine, is one of the weirdest sponsorship deals in sports, especially when you consider that Mercedes-Benz will also be on the replacement for the billion-dollar replacement for the Georgia Dome. Can’t Toyota just sponsor the Superdome?
When: 9 p.m., December 17
Why and how: New Orleans wanted another bowl, so New Orleans got one? The bowl estimates its economic impact as $25 million on its website, and has recorded attendance of more than 50,000 once in its history, which I guess means every person in attendance contributes more than $500 in economic impact to New Orleans — despite the bowl featuring a team from Louisiana, whose fan base might be able to not spend money on lodging, for the sixth straight year? (That website also has the typo “Florida Atlantaic” elsewhere, though, so.) ESPN probably doesn’t mind counter-programming with a college football game against the NFL’s first Saturday game of the year — especially when that game is a Dolphins-Jets clash set to feature Matt Moore and Bryce Petty.
What do the players get? Gift suite, Fossil watch. And yes, that’s it, though a trip to New Orleans is admittedly cool.
How much is that worth? $700? Maybe? The watch is more than $100, assuredly, but who knows what a given gift suite is worth?
Should I watch? Look, no, you shouldn’t, disembodied rhetorical device. But the Louisiana fans (and maybe their rivals) very clearly care. Why else would the game results section of the Wikipedia page have a bunch of broken links for Louisiana, and an unnecessary (and oddly specific) note about Louisiana’s NCAA violations that is repeated twice more on the page? Surely the edit history doesn’t have any amusing sniping between fans about the NCAA’s “revisionist history” or Louisiana’s removal of the “-Lafayette” from its official branding, does it?
Bowl Schedule for December 17, 2016
|Bowl||Team||Location||Time (ET) / TV||Streaming|
|Bowl||Team||Location||Time (ET) / TV||Streaming|
|Gildan New Mexico Bowl||New Mexico vs. UTSA||Albuquerque, NM||2 p.m. / ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Las Vegas Bowl||Houston vs. San Diego State||Las Vegas, NV||3:30 p.m. / ABC||ESPN3|
|Raycom Media Camellia Bowl||Appalachian State vs. Toledo||Montgomery, AL||5:30 p.m. / ESPN||WatchESPN|
|AutoNation Cure Bowl||UCF vs. Arkansas State||Orlando, FL||5:30 p.m. / CBSSN||CBSSports.com|
|R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl||Southern Miss vs. UL Lafayette||New Orleans, LA||9 p.m. / ESPN||WatchESPN|