Sun Bowl Legend Jerry Rubin Saved the Game


It was the year 2003 and Sun Bowl officials didn’t know where to turn. Wells Fargo was dropping sponsorship of the game and, says executive director Bernie Olivas, “We were flat broke.”

Enter Gerald “Jerry” Rubin like a knight on a white horse. Better yet, like Midas on a white horse. It seems like everything that Rubin has touched has turned to gold, including his Helen of Troy company. The Sun Bowl is no exception.

Since Rubin rook over sponsorship of the game, the Sun Bowl and its accompanying events have taken on a glitter like never before, reflecting the class of the man.

Class? Yes. I’ve met Mr. Rubin, interviewed him, been around him and he exudes class in every way: his appearance, his manner, his speech, his actions.


FROM THAT shaky foundation in 2003 the Sun Bowl first became known as the Vitalis Sun Bowl and then as the Brut Sun Bowl.  Both Vitalis and Brut are popular Helen of Troy products.

And now the game has grown to the point where this year each team was paid $1.9 million, a sum Sun Bowl officials could only dream about just a few years ago. This year’s game between University of Oklahoma and Stanford University was so outstanding that it sold out faster than any game since the bowl’s beginning in 1935.

The Jerry Rubin touch.


NOT SURPRISINGLY, Sun Bowl officials presented Rubin this year with their greatest award: Legend of the Sun Bowl. No other sponsor has received the honor.

Frank Bates, president of the Sun Bowl Association, put it simply: “We can’t thank Mr. Rubin enough.”

Olivas points out a salient fact. “Jerry Rubin’s association with the Sun Bowl dates back to the 1980s, well before he became the game’s title sponsor.”

True. He has given one of his company’s trademark products, a hair dryer, to every single player and coach who has participated in the Sun Bowl for the past 25 years. By one official count it comes to more than 6000.

And believe me, he has been generous to just about everybody else connected with the game.


THE SUN BOWL Association appoints a different prominent El Pasoan as president each year. This year’s game and surrounding events were such a success Bates wonders how they can be topped or even equaled next year. Amen Ayoub will succeed Bates.

But before worrying about next year, there is work to be done. The Sun Bowl’s contracts with both Helen of Troy and CBS are up for renewal this year.

One Sun Bowl insider said CBS has already committed to televising the game for the next three years. Not quite. Jimmy Rogers Jr., chair emeritus of the Sun Bowl who has been doing the dealing with the network for years, says it’s not a commitment yet.

“They’ve given us an indication, that’s all,” Rogers said. “There are still details to be worked out.’


AS FOR RUBIN and Helen of Troy, no contract renewal had been signed with the Sun Bowl at this writing.

Of course, Olivas and other Sun Bowl officials would love to continue the relationship.

So would El Paso. Having a home-based sponsor is nice, but having one as caring, generous and classy as Jerry Rubin is one that other bowls can only dream about.

The Sun Bowl’s new pact with the PAC 10 and the Big 12 has proven a good one. This year’s game was not only outstanding but sent television ratings through the roof. Is that great for El Paso, or what? Keeping Rubin and his Helen of Troy company on board would make the future even brighter.

Me? I’m already looking up at the sky with palms together.


Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626, by e-mail at rayf358@yahoo.comor online at