Those cupcake games ain’t gonna pay for themselves.

Talk about your high cost of living:

More than $171 million is scheduled to exchange hands this season for Football Bowl Subdivision non-conference games, according to a USA TODAY Sports analysis. Because these contests are not governed by conference scheduling, these so-called “guarantee” games are set up under contracts negotiated between individual schools. Deals for non-conference games almost always include an appearance payment to the visiting team.

USA TODAY Sports used public-records requests to obtain the contracts for 291 of 325 non-conference games scheduled by FBS teams this season. The school bringing in the most money is Kent State, with guarantees worth $5.2 million. In addition to Kent State, 45 schools are set to make over $1 million off guarantees in 2021.

Those dollar signs are going up almost as fast as coaches’ salaries.  Even so, the math last season was pretty brutal.

Louisiana-Monroe’s two largest game contracts for last season were with Georgia and Arkansas, which guaranteed $1.75 million and $1.5 million, respectively. A year later, ULM athletics director Scott McDonald said conversations with both schools regarding settlements are ongoing.

“In my discussions with both Georgia and Arkansas, and others going forward, I didn’t feel like anybody was trying to take advantage of anybody else,” McDonald said. “I think we all felt like we got thrown in this boat and what can we do to try to figure out something that was completely unfathomable.”

ULM lost more than 21% of its $15 million projected revenue for the 2020-21 fiscal year when those two games were cancelled.

“We did as much as we could to tighten our belt and try to survive,” McDonald said. “We had to take that into the next years and look at how we recover from those losses and how it impacts future years. It’s not like we can just forget about it and not go back and try to reclaim some of those losses.”

While smaller FBS schools rely on guaranteed money, Power Five programs still felt the impact of cancelled games. Even McDonald acknowledges that, while Louisiana-Monroe lost out on more than $3 million in guaranteed money, Power Five schools lost tens of millions of dollars because of attendance restrictions and lost gate revenue.

I still can’t help but wonder how long a conference like the SEC goes without expanding its conference schedule, especially if the risk is still there from COVID.  TV doesn’t doesn’t face an infection risk like fans do and more product for Mickey means more money from Mickey.


Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

9 responses to “Those cupcake games ain’t gonna pay for themselves.

  1. RangerRuss

    The one attribute of the virus was the resultant ten game SEC schedule. If Georgia never played another FBS school I would be happy.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. akascuba

    I’m with Ranger I have no interest in cupcake games. I doubt we’ll see a 10 game SEC schedule unless Mickey makes an offer the presidents can’t refuse. 9 is the number I expect once OU and UT are on the conference schedule.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. uga97

    The cupcakes are starting to pivot for trickle down dollars from midmajors, assuming the p5 matches squeeze them out in 4 years. We’ve got room for only 2 per season over the next 10 years. Add in Tex & OU and we are down to 1.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ran A

    I think the SEC goes to 9 games. That leaves 3 to play with. Some schools (Georgia, Florida and South Carolina come to mind) play an annual instate rivalry game – that leaves them 2. Georgia has scheduled a slew of out of conference games and in some cases 2 in the same year. That cuts the cupcakes way back.

    Bottom-line: The inventory of games will be reduced at least by 16 when the SEC adds Texas and Oklahoma. Then add to the pressure to schedule at least one competitive out of conference – that’s 16 more. It leaves 32 or less potential cupcakes games offered by the SEC and I’m guessing that number ends up being 8-12.

    Supply/Demand – these big pay checks are going to come down – not go up, as small schools will be willing to accept less, making it more of to the lowest bidder verses the other way around.


  5. 69Dawg

    The only thing I have questioned about cupcakes is why don’t we keep the money at home. If your going to fund smaller programs try both GSU’s and Kennesaw State.


  6. Butler Reynolds

    I’m looking forward to the GT/KSU game. I’m just wondering which one is the cupcake.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tony BarnFart

    At what point does society ask, ‘Why must La-Monroe sponsor a really expensive football program ?’