Cupcakes: a lesson in economics

It’s pretty amusing, really.  College presidents wring their hands and whine about the laws of supply and demand when it comes to the dollars of college athletics.   Meanwhile, the athletic directors they employ who live with those same laws don’t whine.  They adapt.

So here’s a question for you realists out there.  What would you expect to happen in a world where the cost of scheduling home football games with mid-major schools has steadily spiraled upwards and the NCAA enacted a rule change which allowed FBS (formerly Division I) teams to count a victory over a FCS (formerly Division IAA) team toward bowl eligibility every year, not just once every four years?

If you answered that the big schools would start shopping at different bakeries, you’d be right.

Games between FBS and FCS teams have spiked 70 percent since a 2005 NCAA rule change made the games more attractive, according to analysis by The Oregonian. The matchups have increased nearly 600 percent in the Pacific-10 Conference and 358 percent in the Big Ten, even adjusting for conference expansion…

FCS games in the powerful Southeastern Conference surged 140 percent since the rule change. This season all 12 SEC teams will host a lower-division opponent.

Actually, it’s not just the big schools who are indulging their sweet tooth.  As this chart indicates, every conference except the WAC has seen an increase in games against lower division opponents:

Conf.                       ’04-’11
% change*
Pac-12……………………. 570
Big Ten…………………… 358
SEC……………………….. 140
C-USA……………………… 83
Mountain West…………… 75
ACC………………………… 57
Big 12……………………… 41
Big East……………………. 40
MAC………………………… 35
Sun Belt…………………… 33
WAC………………………. -29
Total……………………….. 76
*Adjusted for changes in conference size

(h/t Jerry Hinnen)

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13 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

13 responses to “Cupcakes: a lesson in economics

  1. Castleberry

    Is the uptick in SEC % lower because we already scheduled a fair number of FCS games?? I’d like to see a stat on totals.

  2. Bad M

    Percentages can and do lie when you aren’t starting with the same number.

  3. The Pac-10’s numbers are particularly striking given that the period in question coincides almost exactly with when they went to a 9-game conference schedule, though they’ll probably say that they had to schedule more FCS gimmes to compensate for playing a 9th conference game.

    Either way, I hate the rule saying that all I-AA wins now count toward bowl eligibility with no strings attached. And yes, I realize Georgia wouldn’t have been in a bowl game without that rule last season, but seriously, in hindsight would anyone be that upset if we’d never gone to the Liberty Bowl to begin with?

  4. uwdwg

    Do you think that maybe the Pac-10 was the soft part of other teams non conference games?

  5. Mike

    mmmm…cupcakes

  6. W Cobb Dawg

    A meaningless win. I can’t speak for others, but my respect for the team diminishes slightly and watching cupcake games is almost painful. The only enjoyable part is watching one of the cupcakes turn in the occaissional upset. But most of the time it’s the equivalent of taking the week off and calling it a win, except for fleecing your loyal fan base

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      There is a place for cupcakes–the first game of the season. A well drawn up schedule is a work of art. The master was Joel Eaves. A typical UGA football schedule under Eaves: Wk 1: Oregon State (when it was a weak team) in Athens; Wk 2: Baylor in Athens; Wk 3: Clemson away; Wk 4 (beginning of conference schedule) Kentucky in Athens; Wk 5 Vandy away; Wk 6 Ole Miss in Athens; Wk 6 (rotating SEC team, Bama, Miss State, LSU or UT) away; Wk 7 Florida in Jax; Wk 8 Auburn in Athens; Ga Tech in Athens. Note how the first game is against a team that the Dawgs should beat easily–but not too easily–and that the teams get increasingly difficult as the season progresses. The opener is at home and the conference opener (against a weak team) is also at home. UGA almost always opened its SEC schedule against a weak SEC foe at home. In one year it was UK–the next year it was Vandy. The Dawgs then finished the SEC season against the 3 most difficult conference foes (except when 1 was Miss State) in the final 3 SEC games. Was this the exact recipe followed every year? No, but this is what the schedule looked like most years. This is the right way to build team confidence and it leads to winning championships. Eaves had as much to do with all the SEC titles Dooley won as Dooley did.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Opps. Misnumbered but you get the drift.

      • Dan

        ADs have no say over the conference schedule. They don’t get to pick to start at home or on the road in conference play. It’s all random and assigned by the conference.

        Every team wants to play their opener at home in conference play. Only half get to.

        • Mayor of Dawgtown

          Yeah. That’s how FLA got the week off before the WLOCP for years–after Spurrier said in advance that he was going to arrange that—no input from their AD with the league office. But then, life is just a series of random events…..

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