Seth Emerson takes a good look at the rising cost of scheduling lower tier schools for single home games, through the lens of Georgia’s opening opponent this Saturday. Money quote:
“Supply and demand is part of it,” said Farmer, who worked at Georgia Southern from 1982-99. “Right now there’s more of a demand than there is a supply. I know that’s an awful lot of money to pay out to play a football game. But I think the other story would be how much does a Georgia or a Sooth Carolina make at a home football game. … If it wasn’t economically feasible for them, they wouldn’t pay it.”
There may be something coming that bears watching, though – the potential trend towards nine-game conference schedules.
The Next Big Thing in college football scheduling will be an old-school, fan-friendly concept: Playing conference rivals more, not less.
The Pac-10 has played nine conference games for a while, and it appears the Big Ten and Big 12 will soon follow. The trend could affect the national championship race, television contracts, the budgets of smaller schools, and bowl eligibility.
Fewer open slots in BCS-conference schedules means a drop in demand for opponents who will accept a one-and-done arrangement. That means one of two things will result: either appearance fees will decline, or the mid-major conferences will do some shoring up of their own to cut the supply and keep the costs up.
… If the Big Ten shifts to nine games, MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said his league should strongly consider going to nine as well.
“The Big Ten is going to have one fewer non-conference game to schedule,” Steinbrecher said. “Does that mean one fewer game against us they schedule, or one other non-conference game (not against the MAC)? That’s what we don’t know right now.”
Delany said the Big Ten has “pushed it about as far as we can” in paying for increasingly expensive “buy” games.
Conference USA is also considering a nine-game schedule. Many league coaches believe C-USA hasn’t had an undefeated team since 1998 because of difficult non-conference schedules.
Either way, the end result would be less money flowing downstream. That’s not a happy development if you’re a school on the receiving end.