The ideal college football bowl game has an absurd title sponsor. It also delivers a jarring audial collision between random location name and the name of a local tourism product. The following are the bowl names that truly go above and beyond.
Setting aside the many bowls whose sponsors are just trying to sell pretty normal products, here are the strangest bowl names ever. Yes, these are all real.
63. Visit Florida Tangerine Bowl (2001) in Orlando
All bowls were originally tourism things. The verb shows commitment, and all bowls should use one. Come on down to the Test Drive Jeep Eagle Aloha Bowl.
61. (tie) AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl (2008-12) in Shreveport, La.
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl (2014-16) in Houston
The company frequently accused of being a pyramid scheme travels the bowl landscape like a medicine salesman in the Wild West.
60. Progressive Gator Bowl (2011) in Jacksonville
“The medium-sized animals I eat in one big bite are all locally sourced.”
55. (tie) Blockbuster Bowl (1990-93) in Miami
IBM OS/2 Fiesta Bowl (1993-95) in Tempe, Az.
CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl (1994-99) in Orlando
EA Sports Las Vegas Bowl (1999)
Sega Sports Las Vegas Bowl (2001-02)
The wave of pre-2000s technology bowls. Nothing says “party” quite like IBM’s operating system. Let the awkward nostalgia wash over you. There’s an even weirder wave later in the list.
54. Rose Bowl presented by PlayStation 2 (2003) in Pasadena, Ca.
The Rose Bowl is too important to have a title sponsor, technically, so it’s been doing this “presented by” thing since 1999. This sport’s most serious event being Presented By a toy machine whose latest toys included The Clone Wars, Nickelodeon Party Blast, and The Simpsons Skateboarding: perfect.
52. Alamo Bowl presented by MasterCard (2002) in San Antonio
New Mexico Bowl presented by Progressive (2018)
When regular bowls get just as fancy as the Rose Bowl.
51. Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (2014-16)
That’s about the most pleasant trio of words I can imagine, but here’s the silly part:
I am in a stadium built by the Chinese government in the Bahamas, watching an American football game.
Central Michigan is lateraling to almost complete the biggest comeback in bowl history.
When the Chippewas come up just short, the Hilltoppers eat Popeyes. There are no Popeyes in the Bahamas.
50. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (2011-)
Fake it ‘til you make it, and at this point, the Idaho Potato Bowl is somewhat Famous.
49. Gotham Bowl (1961-62) in New York City
25. (tie) AXA Liberty Bowl (1997-2003) in Memphis
Sylvania Alamo Bowl (1999-2001) in San Antonio
Culligan Holiday Bowl (1998-2001) in San Diego
GMAC Mobile Alabama Bowl/GMAC Bowl (2000-2010)
ConAgra Foods Hawaiʻi Bowl (2002)
PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl (2003-04)
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (2006-)
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (2006-13) in Fort Worth
EagleBank Bowl (2008-09) in Annapolis, Md.
uDrove Humanitarian Bowl (2010) in Boise
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (2010-12) in San Diego
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (2010-) in Nashville
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman (2010-) in Annapolis
BBVA Compass Bowl (2011-14) in Birmingham
National University Holiday Bowl (2013-14) in San Diego
Heart of Dallas Bowl presented by PlainsCapital Bank (2013-14)
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (2013-15)
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (2014-) in Fort Worth
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl (2014-) in Montgomery, Al.
NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl (2015-) in Tucson, Az.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (2005-16)/Holiday Bowl (2017-) in San Diego
SoFi Hawaii Bowl (2018-)
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl (2018-) in Dallas
The “how could bowl sponsorship possibly inspire anyone to spend money on these things?” group.
AXA is a French insurance firm, Sylvania is a subsidiary of a German lighting manufacturer, Culligan is an Illinois water treatment company, GMAC was an auto lender, ConAgra is a huge company with dozens of food brands, PlainsCapital is a bank probably not in your town, R+L Carriers trucks stuff, EagleBank is a bank probably not in your town, Bell sells war vehicles to governments, uDrove was some sort of trucking app, Bridgepoint is a for-profit university, National is a non-profit university (the Holiday Bowl went legit), BBVA is a bank probably not in your town, Northrop Grumman sells war vehicles to governments, Franklin American Mortgage sells entire houses, PlainsCapital is a bank probably not in your town, Royal Purple sells industrial lube, Lockheed Martin sells war vehicles to governments, Raycom is a TV thing you either get or don’t get, NOVA will sell you an entire house, the SDCCU is probably not in your town, SoFi advertises student loans as if they’re dating apps, and SERVPRO is a water restoration company in Tennessee that sponsors a bowl in Texas.
24. Salad Bowl (1947-55) in Phoenix
Lots of games have been named after funny foods. This is the funniest of the genre.
23. Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl (2014-2017)
You’d think the last word this very salty chicken chain would want people to think about is “heart.” If ever I were to consider ordering a bucket of Zaladz and heard someone say the word “heart,” I would stop.
22. Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl (2019-) in El Paso
Some sponcon bowls that seem to have funny names are just named after products you’re probably going to buy at some point anyway. That’s not really all that funny. For example:
It’s an event named after crackers. Move on.
However, some are not named after products at all. The name of this game implies you, like LSU, can just buy a tiger.
12. (tie) Insight.com Bowl (1997-2001) in Tucson, Az.
HomePoint.com Music City Bowl (1999) in Nashville
MicronPC.com Bowl (1999-2000) in Miami
Crucial.com Humanitarian Bowl (1999-2003) in Boise
Ourhouse.com Florida Citrus Bowl (2000) in Orlando
galleryfurniture.com Bowl (2000-01) in Houston
EV1.net Houston Bowl (2002-05)
PapaJohns.com Bowl (2006-10) in Birmingham
GoDaddy.com Bowl (2011-13) in Mobile, Al.
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl (2012-13) in Jacksonville
I still can’t believe we, for almost two decades, had football games named after websites.
11. TaxSlayer Bowl/TaxSlayer Gator Bowl (2012-) in Jacksonville
All these years in, and I still don’t know what to say. What a stupid series of words!
10. Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl (2017-)
This is the kind of verbiage Jon Gruden barks at you in order to make you run a slant route.
9. Duck Commander Independence Bowl (2014) in Shreveport
WAR DUCK WAR BOWL.
8. BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl (2015) in Glendale, Az.
WAR FROG PARTY BOWL.
4. (tie) magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl (2008)
St. Petersburg Bowl Presented by Beef 'O' Brady's (2009)
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl (2010-13) in St. Petersburg, Fl.
Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl (2014)
Basically every name the St. Pete/Tampa game has ever been known by, other than the current one. We swore this game would never top being sponsored by a faux-Irish restaurant that cannot use apostrophes correctly, a USB device, and invisible internet money, and yet, see #1.
3. Poulan Weed Eater Independence Bowl (1991-97) in Shreveport
For decades, this was the go-to example when listing off consolation-prize games or complaining about there being too many bowls. Saying “the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl” only happens when you’re making fun of bowl season.
This name became so synonymous with embarrassing bowl trips that, 19 years after it’d changed, then-Houston head coach Tom Herman summoned it to mock rival SMU.
If you're satisfied with going 7-5 and going to the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl, then great. Then you're in the wrong program and we'll find a place for you to go. I hear there's a private school up in Dallas that's really looking to try to get to seven wins.
(Herman then lost an upset to that private school, proving the mere mention of the Poulan Weed Eater Bowl is cursed behavior.)
Topping the legendary Poulan Weed Eater Bowl was something I never thought I’d see. This was the 47-game Oklahoma win streak of terrible bowl names, and yet, see #1.
2. Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl (2018-)
Textually alone, that’s not a silly name. It’s the context, though.
Makers Wanted isn’t a fly by night internet company. It isn’t a shady bank or a fried chicken franchise.
It’s a town 1,320 miles away from the Bahamas. Elk Grove Village, a Chicago suburb out by the airport, hopes to drum up business for its industrial park.
So I drove to Elk Grove to investigate. Surely there’s something tropical there that I’ve missed, which would help connect the sponsor and the bowl.
The weather had warmed up in Chicago, which meant it was in the high 30s with a drizzle, just enough to make you uncomfortable, but not enough to thaw out the snowbanks or conjure the Caribbean.
Here’s a map from Elk Grove Village to the Bahamas:
A town-like thing near Chicago’s airport that literally has an elk grove sponsors a game in the Caribbean. No further questions, your honor.
1. The Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl (2017-) in Tampa
The St. Pete Bowl (now in Tampa) is the god of incredible names. If the entire top five of this list was nothing but St. Pete Bowl names, no one could complain.
This one is so good that it was hard to believe it was real, despite one of the best bowl reporters, a Tampa veteran, breaking the news. He had to circle back and announce on Twitter that he was not kidding.
It’s not fake news: St. Pete Bowl really has been renamed Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. Really! https://t.co/fcxi8GKyeI— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) August 18, 2017
Is this brand as midlife-crisis-y as it sounds? Oh hell yeah it is.
Even better: the game brought to you by lawnmowers WAS LONG PLAYED ON FAKE GRASS IN A BASEBALL STADIUM. Fake grass THAT USED TO BE SOME OF THE WORST TURF YOU’VE EVER BEHELD. The game’s sponsor was completely useless within its own stadium. Diabolical.
It’s since moved to the Bucs’ stadium, the one with the huge fake pirate ship.
Please put lawnmowers in the huge fake pirate ship.
Next Q: what’s a “Gasparilla?”
Well, you see, Tampa has an annual event (about a month after this bowl game) called the Gasparilla Pirate Fest.
OK, but what’s a “Gasparilla?”
The theme of the Gasparilla Festival was inspired by the local legend of José Gaspar, a Spanish naval officer who turned to piracy. [...] Despite this colorful history, there is no evidence that a pirate named Gaspar or Gasparilla ever operated off the Florida coast. [...] In fact, researchers have found no contemporaneous records either in Spain or the United States that mention Gaspar's existence, and no physical evidence of his presence in Florida has ever been uncovered.
To sum up: the bowl that was mostly known for ugly fake grass is brought to you by an unnecessary lawnmower company that is CERTIFIED BADASS, BABY and has the same name as Diddy’s record label, all in honor of a fake pirate who had nothing to do with Tampa, St. Petersburg, colleges, football, lawnmowers, Bitcoin, USB connectors, Steamy Queso ‘O’ Poppers, or the student-athlete experience.
That’s one of the dumbest sentences ever typed, and I could not possibly love this sport more.