Derek Redd: All I want for Xmas is a roster spot ... and a PS4
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- This is my plea to Marshall football Coach Doc Holliday. I beseech you, good sir, to read on.
All I seek is a spot on the travel roster. I'm sure my three seasons spent as a junior high/freshman team wide receiver is a proper resume. And while some may consider age 36 to be old, I prefer the term "cagey veteran."
I don't need to start. Shoot, I don't even need to play. All I'm asking for is one spot. Is it for one last stab at glory? An opportunity for my "Rudy" moment? My turn at channeling George Plimpton's "Paper Lion?"
Heck, no. I'm just in it for the PlayStation 4.
So where do you folks think the Military Bowl, Marshall's destination at the end of the month, placed that item on the bowl gift list Thundering Herd players read? Did the bowl stick it at the end behind the winter hat and backpack, otherwise known as the socks and underwear of bowl gifts? Or did it lead off with that coveted gadget, one that so many stood in line at midnight to fork over hundreds of dollars to score?
Gift packages like this are one of the things (on a quickly dwindling list) the NCAA gets right, allowing up to $550 worth of gifts for each team's bowl participants. For the players, it's a nice way for the bowls to congratulate them for reaching the postseason.
For schmoes like us who don't know a radar defense from "Radar Love," it's fun to see which bowl you'd rather play in this season, solely based on the swag involved.
The Military Bowl is No. 1 with a bullet for the PS4 alone. Now none of the players have to stand in line at the electronics store and fight through a horde that would make an Oklahoma drill look like a pillow fight. The Beef 'O' Brady, BBVA Compass and Las Vegas Bowls aren't too shabby, either. Among the gifts there are Samsung Galaxy Tab 3s.
(Though I have to admit, it seems like the Beef 'O' Brady and Las Vegas bowls are piling on just a tad. A trip to St. Petersburg, Fla., or Vegas plus a Galaxy Tab? Memo to the coaching staffs of Ohio, East Carolina, Southern Cal and Fresno State: The pitch I gave to the good doctor at the start of this column? Goes for you, too, boys.)
Not to be outdone, the Alamo Bowl is dropping an iPad mini into the laps of the Oregon and Texas football teams. The rest of the bowls come through with the usual haul of watches, sunglasses and backpacks. Several offer a couple hundred dollars in gift cards. Best Buy is a popular one. Radio Shack and Chick-fil-A cards are out there, too.
The Belk Bowl provides a bit of cross-branding, giving the Cincinnati and North Carolina football teams a Belk shopping trip. Now, while I - the middle aged ... er, "cagey veteran" (see, Doc?) that I am - wouldn't mind a shopping spree at a department store that, on its website, touts itself as "where southern style lives," I wonder how much traction it has with the 18-to-22-year-olds walking through the stacks of Dockers.
Now some folks might wonder why college football players, who already are on scholarship, are getting hundreds of dollars in bowl gifts on top of that.
To that, I say stick a stocking in it, ya Grinch.
These kids are being pulled away during the holiday season - one of the few times in the year they get extended time with their families - to pop decent ratings on ESPN through the month of December. The least these bowls can do is offer a few tokens of appreciation.
Besides, it sometimes can offer some opportunities for random acts of kindness. At last year's Russell Athletic Bowl, players got a $470 Best Buy gift card and a couple hours to shop around an Orlando Best Buy. Virginia Tech corner Antone Exum gave his gift card to a trio of boys hanging out in the store and they bought a PlayStation 3. Linebacker Tariq Edwards and receiver Marcus Davis chipped in to buy the boys games for their new console.
I'll apologize right away for the fact that my intentions aren't as altruistic. That PS4 would be mine, mine, mine, all mine. So the ball's in your court, dear Coach Holliday. You might be able to time my 40-yard dash with an hourglass, but I make up for it in wiliness and nice hair.
You're the only thing between me and a marathon "Assassin's Creed IV" session, Doc. You know what to do. I'll be waiting by the phone.
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.