For this week’s post, we wanted to promote one of the post-season college athlete exposure bowl games. The Tropical Bowl has invited and assisted Mountain West Conference football players over the years and now it’s time for us to learn a bit more about the bowl and what they do. Michael Quartey, the President of the Tropica Bowl, was gracious enough to answer some questions for us. Check it out.
MWCConnection: How did the Tropical Bowl come to be?
Michael Quartey: The Tropical Bowl started just in 2016, but this year will be our 10th anniversary of the National Bowl Small College All Star Game. That was our starting point, a game we have been running with the FCS Bowl that also features top FCS and HBCU seniors. Our Tropical Bowl focuses on FBS College Football’s best and was birthed out of our small school games 5 years ago in Miami at FIU Stadium where we were hosting our games.
MWCConnection: Do you target certain players for your bowl or how do invites work?
Quartey: We receive nominations from schools, agents, as well as recommendations from our National Scouts like veteran Shaun DePasquale and also our scouting partner, NFL Draft Blitz. We also have two renowned former NFL scouts on staff, Ken Moll and Jerry Hardaway, who lead our weekend’s scouting.
MWCConnection: Similarly, is there sort of a competition (or perhaps collaboration) between your bowl and the Senior and Shrine Bowls?
Quartey: I don’t think there is a competition in that the Senior Bowl is the clear leader in college all-star bowl games and the Shrine Game in it’s 95th year, with both also having a strong foothold on top players . I believe we all do our own scouting and go down our list of players we want in our games and sometimes there is some overlap but I think each game has a distinct set of players they go after and I think that is the core of what makes each game special.
MWCConnection: In what ways does the bowl provide an opportunity for the players?
Quartey: The SPIRAL Tropical Bowl sets out to shine a light on extremely talented players that may need a little more exposure to impress NFL and CFL scouts. Almost every NFL team attends the FBS Tropical Bowl and we have been one of the few games that players from top schools such as Alabama, LSU. Notre Dame, Florida State, Miami, Penn State etc will attend and we have had the support from the top NFL agents in the business during this process.
MWCConnection: Along the same lines, do you have facts and stats on how many players who have participated in the Tropical Bowl find their way into NFL camps or on rosters?
Quartey: We have been blessed to have four players drafted to the NFL the past two years. However many other of our players will also go undrafted, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have NFL futures. Some players make the roster and become active for the entire season, while others are on the practice squad, or are active for part of the season, so players who make rosters can fluctuate. What I can tell you is that we have sent over 200 players to the NFL with a mix of players on rosters, mini-camps, or practice squads which has been astounding as we operate without a major sponsor. We have also sent hundreds of small school players to the NFL through our National Bowl and FCS Bowl including the NFL’s highest paid current slot CB Kenny Moore, who was out of Valdosta State and is now with the Indianapolis Colts because he came out of the FCS Bowl and Tropical Bowl.
MWCConnection: What is the Tropical Bowl experience like over the course of the week?
Quartey: Our Tropical Bowl experience focuses on professionalism, respect, and camaraderie. We bring in top former NFL staff, top coaches, top NFL agents, former players, and top NFL scouts to work with top FBS college football players to educate them on what it takes to be a PRO. We do not reinvent the wheel as everyone that is at the Tropical Bowl is elite from top athletic trainers like Ed Woodley of UCF, to top coaches like Todd Littlejohn and Jim Collins. The weekend is full of team meetings, player measurements, interviews, practice, and most importantly the actual Tropical Bowl game which is always an exciting competition!
MWCConnection: Some fans may know what takes place during the game week. But what does the rest of the year look like for all of you?
Quartey: The year before the Tropical Bowl we are scouting and scouring over 5000 college football seniors from all divisions for our December and January Bowl lineup. On top of evaluating talent, we are reevaluating our past year and always looking to make changes and get better. With today’s technology the market is forever changing and we do our best to stay ahead of that curve as we believe we are one of the few all-star bowls that can aggressively do so.
MWCConnection: What would you say are the best or most rewarding aspects of being part of the Tropical Bowl?
Quartey: One of the most rewarding aspects of being the President of the Tropical Bowl is seeing our players who many didn’t believe would make it to the next level become solid NFL and CFL players. It is also exciting that we are the only African-American owned College Football Bowl game and it’s important for our players to see that being there is a professional life after football. We strive to include different perspectives and this year one of our coaches, Lori Locust became one of the first women hired as an NFL Coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We believe in opportunity for all and we haven’t been let down yet.
Thanks again to Michael and the Tropical Bowl for the interview and be sure to watch come January, as a few MWC players are sure to be involved!