“If only it was that easy.”

Kudos to the Orlando Sentinel, which managed to produce an article about the economics of the D-1 football postseason without having to resort to blind assurances that grabbing all that extra money from a new playoff format would be a breeze.

Here’s the heart of the matter:

… When approached about a playoff, most officials and analysts toss out the disclaimer that “it isn’t all about money.”

It’s about sharing, and not the kind of sharing you learn in kindergarten.

“Conferences have to ask themselves if the hundreds of millions they share 12 ways should be shared 120 ways,” said Steve Hogan, chief executive officer of Florida Citrus Sports. “Most have trouble with that scenario.”

Despite increases in bowl revenue for non-automatic qualifying conferences since the BCS’ inception in 1998, many experts say the six most powerful conferences have too sweet of a deal to desire a change.

A study by Brigham Young University assistant economics professor Richard W. Evans found the automatic qualifiers have taken at least 93 percent of the overall bowl revenue in seven of the last 11 years in the BCS era.

The Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern Conference have earned $1.87 billion in bowl money since 1998, according to Evans’ calculations. That figure includes Notre Dame, an independent.

The Mountain West, Western Athletic Conference, Conference USA, Sun Belt and Mid-American Conference have earned a combined $196.4 million during that span, less than last year’s total alone of $218.85 million for the automatic qualifiers.

“I can’t see any reason why they would want to change that sort of financial boon,” said Evans, who spent eight months researching the BCS and published his work on the Web site econosseur.com.

That’s because, quite simply, there isn’t one.  If they want more for what they bring to the table, the mid-majors are going to have to create their own incentives, or sit and wait on the likes of Orrin Hatch for a government-led end run.

Two other issues addressed in the article are worth pondering:  (1) the effect a playoff would have on the value of the mid-majors’ regular season and (2) the anti-playoff incentive of the new SEC TV contract.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, It's Just Bidness

14 responses to ““If only it was that easy.”

  1. If it is all about financial gain, why then, do we not hand the actual championship to the most profitable team or the largest revenue generating team?

    Senator, I just do not understand your reasoning. You appear to be more concerned about the financial well being of D-1 schools than actually finding out how a team like Auburn would have faired in, or UGA in 2002.

    Pragmatism is one thing, respect for tradition and history, OK, but the staunchness of your opposition to an on-field championship amazes me.

    You have stated, too many times to count, the reasons you are against a playoff, but I always find them from the position of a vested administrator and not from a fan. Do you not think and slight loss of interest in a regular season game you might suffer would not be more than compensated for in a post season tourney?

    I know I am beating a dead horse with you, but you keep parading the horse out here….


    • Mike, I am not opposed to playoffs per se. Make me the god-king of D-1 football for a day, and I’ll reconfigure it into eight ten-team power conferences with an eight team playoff of conference winners in a heartbeat. More realistically, I can certainly live with a plus-one arrangement, although I far prefer BCS Guru’s proposal to Mike Slive’s.

      What I am wholeheartedly and vehemently opposed to is an extended playoff. I think, just like in every other sport I’ve followed that’s gone down that road, it’ll do irreparable harm to what makes college football the best sport on earth – its regular season.

      I continue to harp on the money aspect of things, not because I’m a Jim Delany sympathizer, but because there’s this widespread perception that adopting a playoff would be the easiest thing in the world that I think is completely detached from reality. When I hear stuff like “there’s plenty of money” or “Notre Dame will just have to join a conference” or “we’ll have playoffs without the Big Ten and Pac-10”, it’s just BS from people who think their worldview conquers all, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

      In other words, if you want to have a serious playoff debate, you’ve got to answer in a realistic way the questions that articles like this raise. And contrary to what playoff proponents insist, it ain’t easy.


      • Left to Right

        As I believe I commented before, a couple of weeks ago I heard the commissioner of the MWC say a playoff was inevitable because “there was too much money being left on the table” under the current arrangement. And thought how amusing that must sound to the 12 SEC ADs.

        If Orrin Hatch ever somehow does succeed in having the BCS system declared an anti-trust violation, the SEC (and most likely the other 5 BCS conferences) will simply go back to the way things were in the early 80’s, with teams and conferences individually arranging games with the various bowls. There is no way they are giving up or “sharing” their contracts with ESPN and the networks. And if that happens, does anything think there will be a prayer in hell of a Utah, Boise State or Hawaii getting to play in a major bowl like the Sugar Bowl or the Fiesta Bowl?


  2. MacAttack

    Then it is time we take a hit financially and start getting less with a playoff system

    The SEC will still get a massive deal from the networks, our alumni will still fund our program (including me), and our team will still win a good bit except against UF


    • Judgedawg

      MacAttack, what you are saying is that UGA fans should be willing to pay more in contributions and ticket prices in order to find out if Florida would have beaten Texas last year.

      If you are not a Hartman fund contributor, then seeing if the winner of the UF-OU game beats the winner of the Texas OSU costs you nothing.

      If you are a seasons ticket holder, then you will be paying more to make up for the “hit” SEC teams take financially. If a playoff is worth, to you, of you paying more money, I respect that. I am not interested in having to pay more just to have a playoff myself.

      Don’t thing for one second the “hit” UGA would take “financially” won’t be passed on to the consumers.


      • MacAttack

        For starters, the price of tickets and packages are already increasing almost yearly so let’s not act like what we have now is some financial saver as we complain about prices for just about everything….almost every off-season, especially last year when demand shot up.

        Second, I don’t think the “hit” would be anywhere near as massive as you apparently do and my comments were more towards our backbone financially which involves our AD, fans, and success….which as the numbers show in revenue we are at the top or near it (forgot exactly). Even with a hit at the wallet, I don’t see any dooms day scenario for us as we have what it takes to overcome most pitfalls if they ever occured in the situation presented above.

        We can have the same system we have now with increases still occuring and no playoff or a playoff system that will cost a bit more. I will take the system that costs a bit more because I think we can afford it and we will benefit from it as a football team.


        • NCT

          My Hartman Fund (previously GEEF) contribution requirement hasn’t gone up a single time in the 14 or so years I’ve been a season ticket holder. Ticket price, yes, but not my annual contribution.


        • Judgedawg


          The SEC has the largest total bowl payouts of any conference. The SEC teams divide that money among 12 teams. If we have a playoff and the playoffs use the bowls, we will get 1/120th of the money rather than 1/12th of the money. What is the math; do we get just 10% of what we did get? I know we would get 1/120th of the money that would have gone to the PAC 10 and Big East, but it won’t make up the difference.

          While our football income will go down significantly, the cost of scholarships, the cost of travel, the cost of salaries and all the other expenses aren’t going down. You and I will pay the difference. Don’t kid yourself.

          The playoff system will cost you more than “a bit more.” You are willing to pay more to watch a playoff. As I said, I respect that. It is like brussel sprouts. I love them. You may not. The facts are, though, that you will have to pay a good bit more to enjoy a playoff.


  3. Yeah, a playoff system won’t make more money. That’s why professional sports use a BCS like system instead of a playoff. Since their whole reason to exist is money, clearly they know what is most profitable and thus prefer a BCS style champion.



    • Thanks for illustrating my point, Muck.


    • kcits

      Yeah, that professional system is so great a 9-7 (56% winning percentage) Cardinal team can make the playoffs and wind up playing to be called World Champions. How can you respect a system that would let a team finish the season .5625 and still have a chance to be called the “best in the world”?


      • This is the correct answer. If we aspire to call the national champion in college football “the team holding the trophy at the end of the day”, then a playoff is fine with me. I think the whole LSU in 2007 debate about looking at “their resume as a whole” nulls and voids that theory. If we are to reward a team for their year to date accomplishments, a four game playoff doesn’t solve that. All a four game playoff solves is that Team X got hot for four weeks and won the tournament. I just think college football is different than that and a playoff is not a blanket solution because at some point we will end up with more 1984 BYU national championship type teams than 2004 USC type championship teams.


        • You can minimize that risk by restricting the size of the playoff field. If you look at BCS Guru’s “history” of the BCS using his proposal, he never has a team ranked lower than sixth in the country make the playoffs.


          • kcits

            The problem is once you let the “I want a playoff” people get a foot in the door, how do you keep them from inviting all their friends to the party? Look at what has happened to the bowl system, any team with a winning record (and a few without) can make the post-season. What’s to stop these teams making meaningless bowls from demanding into the playoff and us winding up with a field of 64 playing for it all?