College football's bowl name game has Tony the Tiger, pirates & more

William Shakespeare was clearly not a follower of college football bowl season otherwise he never would have written “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” in “Romeo and Juliet.”

The name game for college football bowls gets underway today with the — Are you ready? — The Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl at 2 p.m. on ESPN with a nightcap of the Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl.

The story behind the Bahamas Bowl can be found here. It is a unique proposition for a sporting event and like a football, has taken some unexpected bounces. The Frisco Bowl has its own little history of oddities.

The game began its life as the Miami Beach Bowl in 2014. It was played in Marlins Park, a baseball stadium that is seven miles from Miami Beach and in a separate city — the city of Miami Beach is independent of the city of Miami. In 2017, ESPN bought the game and renamed it The Frisco Bowl.

Some thought the game was moving to San Francisco. No, the game is held in Frisco, Texas, which is 28 miles outside Dallas and happens to be the home of one of the legendary games, the Cotton Bowl. DXL Men’s Apparel was the title sponsor for the first two Frisco contests. The 650-store Tropical Smoothie Café chain took over the sponsorship this year.

The payout for Utah State and Kent State is $650,000, and presumably, all the Tropical Smoothies they can drink.


The Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., has no title sponsor nor should it be confused with the 1948 bowl of the same name played in Lafayette, La., a game that was held from 1961 to 1975 and once in 1980 in Sacramento, Calif.

So what do the three cities share to be the home of this game? Apparently flowers. According to America Camellia Society (Yes, there is such a thing): “The camellia blossom often falls off the plant in its entirety, symbolic of a man's head being cut off.”

The payout for this game is $300,000 — one of the lowest in bowl season — to be split between Florida International University and Eastern Michigan on Dec. 21.

From Camellia to Gasparilla. No, this is not another flower.

The Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl is named for José Gaspar, a mythical pirate who, legend has it, operated in the Tampa Bay area and serves as the inspiration for Tampa's Gasparilla Pirate Festival. The game is played at Raymond James Stadium, which is home to the NFL Buccaneers. It actually began in 2008 as the St. Petersburg Bowl before switching to honor the legendary pirate in 2017. Title sponsorship has come from the tech accessory MagicJack, then by Bitcoin and Beef O’Brady’s, a 202 sports pub chain based in Tampa. It had two bowl names with four different sponsors in 11 years, but Marshall University and the University of Central Florida won’t care about this history since they’ll split $1.2 million on Dec. 23.


One of the more popular games — at least with players and coaches — is the Hawai’i Bowl. It joins a long line of bowls played in our nation’s 50th state. It all began with the Poi Bowl (1936–1939), then Pineapple Bowl (1940–1941, 1947–1952), followed by the Aloha Bowl (1982–2000), and Oahu Bowl (1998–2000). The latter two had Jeep as a title sponsor.

This latest edition of pigskin in paradise began in 2018 with SoFi as a title sponsor. SoFi made its name with millennials marketing refinancing of college loans so this tie-in makes sense. On Christmas Eve, the hometown University of Hawaii and Brigham Young University will split $1.2 million or $999 million less than the total student debt in the United States.

The Independence Bowl started in 1976 with the best of intention: to honor our nation’s birthday and the fight for freedom. Then the title sponsorship came from 1990 to 1996 the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl. Several other more mundane title sponsors followed until 2014 when Duck Commander, which makes duck hunting equipment, came on board. The history of the naming rights for this game leaves that out of its official web site.


Camping World replaced the ducks for two years and this year the fight for Independence falls to Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar, an eatery in Baton Rouge owned by two former Louisiana State University “walk-on” athletes.

With the game played in Shreveport, Walk-On’s is a local brand participating in a big local event. It has 14 "Cajun Country" locations among its 100 eateries that span 15 states. On Dec. 26, the walk-ons and scholarship players from the University of Miami and Louisiana Tech will split $2.2 million.

Tony the Tiger's Frosted Flakes has been in breakfast bowls before but this year marks Tony's first-ever college football bowl

While breakfast cereal sales are on the decline, Kellogg’s is using college football to fight back. With a 4 percent drop in sales this year, the Sun Bowl, which has been played in El Paso since 1935 this year will be the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl, giving the title name to the “frontman” of Frosted Flakes. This is believed to be the first time a character from a cereal box has ever headlined a bowl game.

Kellogg’s will provide the flakes on New Year’s Eve, Arizona State and Florida State will bring the milk and drink up the $4.5 million payout.

But, not all is crazy in the college bowl name game.

The Cure Bowl, played Orlando, Fla., with FBC Mortgage as a title sponsor, raises funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. It has been played since 2015, this year Liberty University and Georgia Southern will take the field on Dec. 21 to do good. The teams will split a small sum – just shy of $575,000, but the more important number is that since its inception the game has raised more than $3.5 million for breast cancer research