Brian Cook nicely summarizes why we shouldn’t give a rat’s ass for the most part about those “Such-and-such University lost money on its bowl game” stories:
… Between the ticket guarantee and the hotel obligation, UConn was doomed to lose a ton of money as soon as they accepted the Fiesta Bowl bid. The Big East as a whole did not, however—that travel allocation from the Big East is only a tiny sliver of the $17.7 million the conference got from the worst playoff on earth. Most of the articles on this topic overlook that. While it’s weird that for a lot of schools getting a BCS bid is an invitation to set money on fire, those schools are the sort that get a BCS bid once in a blue moon. The rest of the time they’re getting money for nothing and chicks for free. Their net from the system is positive.
So that’s annoying but I guess tolerable…
But he’s right about this, too.
… Not so much on the lower end where getting your terrible bowl bid is a net loss for you and the conference. While the most recent article flurry focuses on the fake losses at the top of the ladder, it’s the bottom where the problem is. There’s a point on the bowl ladder at which the game turns from a contributor to college football to a parasite on it. I’m not sure where it is but it’s well above the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl in St. Petersburg.
Where I think he goes off the track a bit is with his proposed solution.
The NCAA needs to limit the obligations a bowl can foist on the teams that will host them. This will cause a half-dozen minor bowls to shutter their doors, but everything that goes by the wayside was sucking money out of college football and giving it to the East Nowhere chamber of commerce. They won’t be missed even by the schools that used to go to them.
The problem with that approach is that – ironically enough, given that this is something normally tossed in the BCS’ direction – there may well be an antitrust problem with the NCAA cutting off qualified competition.
Actually, there are two problems. The second one has to do with the owner of the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl.
ESPN Regional Television also owns, manages, and stages a number of top sporting events. Here is a complete list:
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, Texas)
MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney (Orlando, Fla.)
New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque)
BBVA Compass Bowl (Birmingham, Ala.)
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg
Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu)
That, friends, is a nice gig if you can get it – recover some of the fees paid out for broadcast rights by sticking schools with a bill for ticket sales. And who’s gonna object and risk a fight with the WWL? Not the NCAA, that’s for sure.