WMU players brag about bowl swag – the Apple Watch

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Justin Tranquill

Dallas -- The Cotton Bowl has a reputation for putting on a first-class show.

It certainly did last year, in terms of hospitality, for Alabama and Michigan State. But that was a playoff game, a national semifinal, so that attention to detail was to be expected.

But could it really hold up this year, as "just" another New Year's Six bowl, featuring Wisconsin and Western Michigan?

Turns out, no problemo.

Western Michigan players have been treated darn-near like royalty, with their faces adorning the sides of buses, with tickets to Dallas Cowboys (vs. Detroit Lions) and Dallas Mavericks games. There even was a personal performance by comedian Cedric the Entertainer.

And then there's the gifts, the highlight of the swag bag being an Apple Watch for everyone.

"This is the coolest thing I've had from any bowl game," said junior cornerback Darius Phillips, the Detroit native who's playing in his third bowl at Western Michigan. "We actually got them early in the morning, going down to breakfast. It kind of woke me up. I was very excited."

The sleek watches retail for upward of $300.

The NCAA permits bowl games to hand out gifts to players, not to exceed $500 in total.

'GameDay' ranks clever WMU sign No. 3 for 2016

Most of the Western Michigan players, including Phillips, already have been rocking the watch. But for some, it's still in the box.

That's the case for freshman safety Justin Tranquill, who actually got a Fitbit from his grandfather for Christmas. He's choosing to wear that instead, and said he'll probably give his Apple Watch away. But to whom? That's where things get tricky. He has four siblings, though he's ruled out older brother, Drue, who plays for Notre Dame.

"I know he gets hooked up with a lot of gear," Tranquill said. "If I give it to one, then the other three are gonna be mad at me. I have one sister. She might be the lucky recipient."

You hear that, Sara Kate? That was on the record.

Sorry, Jack and Ethan.


Twitter @tonypaul1984