“A hundred million dollars is not going to sway us, when $2 billion didn’t.”

The college football world waits with baited breath for Bernie’s playoff plan to be unveiled at the SEC presidents’ meeting.

… The short version: Form a limited liability corporation that, like the BCS, would work outside the framework of the NCAA. Try to utilize the current bowl structure, but distribute revenue to all 119 Division I-A schools instead of keeping most of the money for the schools in the six “power conferences.” The market, Machen said, would determine whether to play an eight-team, 16-team or “plus-one” format.

Depending on who you listen to, that ol’ market sure can throw out some interesting figures:

… Machen believes money eventually will convince his fellow presidents to embrace a playoff. He said the current system doesn’t generate as much revenue as it should, especially considering college football’s massive popularity. He points to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, which brings in $545 million in television rights fees from CBS each year. Fox’s contract with the BCS to televise the Orange, Sugar, and Fiesta bowls and the BCS national title game pays $83 million a year. That contract runs through 2010, and Machen hopes presidents will consider a playoff before agreeing to a new deal.

“There may be – and you won’t know this until you test it – $100 [million] to $200 million that’s not on the table right now,” said Machen, who said he has spoken to media consultants about the dollar figures.

Jim Wheeler believes Machen’s math is wrong. Wheeler worked with a Swiss company called International Sports and Leisure in the late 1990s. The company, which has since gone bankrupt, offered about $375 million a year ($3 billion over eight years) to stage a 16-team playoff. Later, the company amended its offer to $2.5 billion for an eight-team playoff.

“The money is there,” said Wheeler, who now runs the Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Oklahoma’s college of business. “That’s the easy part. [Machen’s figures] will be surpassed if there’s a true playoff.”

$2.5 billion for an eight team playoff?  No wonder the company went bankrupt.

It’s his naivete that’s so impressive.  Those pesky PAC-10ers and Big Ten folks?  Those Rose Bowl guys?  Screw ’em if they don’t want to play with Machen:

… Machen hopes that if the other nine “bowl subdivision” conferences agree to support a playoff, the Big Ten and the Pac-10 would cave to pressure from their own fans.

“We may do it without them,” Machen said. “My approach would be that the other conferences and schools would devise a playoff system, and we’ll see if the Big Ten and the Pac-10 can stay outside of it. … With a lot more money on the table and a true playoff system, they’re going to say ‘Sorry, we’re going to Pasadena?’ We’ll see.”

You’re going to propose a true national championship playoff without USC, Michigan and Ohio State?  Yeah, that’ll work.

Maybe Bernie hopes that if he holds his breath until his face turns blue, they’ll cave.  If nothing else, that should be fun to see.

… Wheeler isn’t sure Machen, who as interim provost ran the University of Michigan during a presidential search that lasted from 1995 to 1997, remembers the power of the conference in which he once worked.

“If he thinks he can round up the troops and bully the Big Ten,” Wheeler said, “I’d buy some popcorn and watch it.”

By the way, here’s an enterprising reporter’s look at a 16 team playoff scenario.  All I needed to see was the first matchup to know how much this would suck.  Middle Tennessee State University.  Bleah. 

(h/t The Wizard of Odds)


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

4 responses to ““A hundred million dollars is not going to sway us, when $2 billion didn’t.”

  1. Machen’s math skills are borderline incompetent.

    $100 million divided by 119 schools is less than $1 million each if the revenue is shared quasi-equally.

    But even if the math isn’t that basic….and it isn’t. Why would someone in the power elite want to share the revenue in a more balanced manner? He’s the one benefiting from the current system.

    Doubling the revenue while moving from 60 teams splitting most of the cash to 119 splitting it ‘more fairly” still doesn’t get anyone enough cash to bother mucking up a system that clearly works financially.

    It really would have to be $300 million more just to talk about it. And I’m not sure that it is. The current system generates $83 million for 5 games of TV.

    An 8 team playoff only gets you 2 more TV games. The reason the B-ball tourney can pull so much $ is the incredibly vast inventory of TV ad time available from a 63 game (130+ hour) tourney vs. a 7 game 21+ hour football tourney. The money isn’t as big as many think.


  2. Yup. I made that point a while back.

    To top it off, Machen’s proposal gives all kinds of smaller schools an incentive to go D-1 with their football programs to get a share of the new, bigger revenue pie – just like what’s happened with basketball.

    That’s why I keep insisting that once they go down the road to a D-1 football playoff, they’re going to wind up with a 64 team tourney. The math doesn’t make any sense otherwise.

    It doesn’t matter what anybody thinks about a “plus-one” or an eight team tourney, because in the end they’ll be irrelevant. And what we’ll wind up with will be the end of college football as we know it now.

    But it will be great if you like brackets…


  3. Dan

    The Pac-10 will never abandon the Rose Bowl; just ask the Cal fans whose motto is ‘Rose Bowl before I die.’


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