College Football Postseason: All About the Money

College Football Postseason: All About the Money


Commissioners attempt to salvage current bowl set up while layering in a new one.

Next week, a group of 11 football bowl system commissioners along with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick will present a recommendation to the Bowl Championship Series’ Presidential Oversight Committee in Washington, D.C. That committee is comprised of 12 university presidents, people who have the authority to determine the future of major college football’s postseason arrangement.

Fan forums across the nation have been lighting up in recent weeks, with participants speculating what that arrangement might be. SayCampusLife has been following numerous threads on fan sites including ones for the Baylor Bears, the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Penn State Nittany Lions and the UCLA Bruins, with most participants agreeing that a four-team arrangement is the best option. A significant number, however, are eight-team postseason adherents, with a sprinkling of 16-team playoff supporters in the mix too. Yes, our findings are clearly unscientific, but we believe are representative of some of the nation’s most passionate fans.

On the Line: Money

Speculations and fan opinions aside, the fact remains that a new bowl arrangement will seek to maintain much of the status quo as it all comes down to just one thing: money. Yes, there certainly is an effort to make the new postseason arrangement as equitable as possible, one that would guarantee that the four top-rated teams at the end of the regular season will have a chance to qualify for the national championship.

The amount of cash the new arrangement could generate is between $400 and $500 million reports ESPN, a figure that does not include the billions of dollars generated annually by the 35 or so other bowl games. Those billions go well beyond ticket sales and includes fan airfare, hotel stays, restaurant visits and other expenditures that host cities and businesses enjoy when a game is held. Which is why the current bowl arrangement will stay largely in place with two new games added.

Two New Bowl Games

Those two new games represent the semifinals with the winners advancing to the existing national championship game. Some have called for the current top bowls including Fiesta, Rose, Sugar and Orange to take turns hosting the semifinal games with perhaps the national championship game put in that rotation too. Under this arrangement, no new games would be added, with two or three bowl games repurposed to cover the playoffs.

Follow the ever lengthening money trail of major college football and you’ll find that this option won’t win out as no “new” money would come in save for an enhanced ESPN television contract. Instead, what likely will happen is that the major bowl games will be held on New Year’s Day with the “also rans” playing in those games. The following weekend the semifinals would be held and the week after that the national championship. Likely, neutral sites will host each game with the highest bidders (cities) winning sponsorship rights.

Keeping Congress Happy

What the university presidents will be wrangling over the most will be how to divide the largesse. They’ll need to get this one right too because Congress will hold hearings if a Boise State cries foul, a likely prospect if the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac 12 pull in more money and the Big East, ACC and the rest of the conferences are given little consideration.

Look for the committee to make an official statement later this summer announcing its plan with smooth words said about how it benefits “student athletes” while the rest of us nod, wink and yell, “Ka-Ching!”


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