One of the great unsung traditions of bowl season is the always-awkward "both coaches put on suits and pose with the bowl trophy" pre-game press conference photo.
A bowl game, an operation that exists 365 days a year working towards three hours a year, has essentially two functions: put on a good game and give out a trophy to the winner. They put a lot of thought into these trophies. Some are great, some are not.
Creating a great bowl trophy accomplishes three goals: 1) Be distinguished. Look like something teams want to win. 2) Be unique to your game without being corny. You shouldn't have to plaster your logo on the trophy to know what game it's from. 3) Don't look like an approximation of the Lombardi Trophy.
1. Rose Bowl - This trophy breaks just about every rule posted above. But it's the Rose Bowl. It's simple, but that's the way it should be. Again, it's the Rose Bowl.
2. Liberty Bowl - Is it a little ostentatious to replicate one of America's greatest and oldest symbols of freedom on a trophy played in a city over 1,000 miles away from the original? Sure. But that's what makes this trophy so great.
3. Sugar Bowl - It's gold. It's gaudy. It's massive. Basically, it's a perfect symbol for the city it represents.
4. Orange Bowl - Ten points for uniqueness here. Make regular trips to your local produce section and visitors to your trophy room will never wonder which bowl you've won.
5. Alamo Bowl - Many bowl trophies come married to massive platforms to make the trophy feel (literally and figuratively) like a bigger deal than it might need to be. But none of them work in a great symbol to their city like this one.
6. Music City Bowl - So many bowls refuse to lend their trophies into literal symbols of their identity. Why isn't the Pizza Bowl trophy a giant pizza? Why isn't the Gator Bowl trophy a bronze alligator? Same for the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, the Sun Bowl, the Texas Bowl, et cetera. The Music City Bowl gets it.
7. Cotton Bowl - This trophy would've been a terrible fit when the Cotton Bowl was played at its old eponymous stadium. But in Jerry Jones' futuristic football theme park? A futuristic trophy fits right in.
8. Outback Bowl - An imitation of the Lombardi Trophy turns into an instantly-recognizable symbol of the Outback Bowl with the addition of one simple boomerang.
9. Hawaii Bowl - You can't tell me teams trekking all the way out to the islands and back don't want to bring back the football pineapple with them.
10. New Mexico Bowl - As evidenced by the No. 1 entry on our list, a bowl's ability to be traditional falls in direct proportion with where it stands on the postseason totem pole. A simple trophy at the Rose Bowl looks classy. A simple trophy at the New Mexico Bowl gets shoved to the back of the trophy case. The folks in Albuquerque have created a symbol unique to their area and wholly different from anything else seen in bowl season.