Bowl payout numbers are eye-popping
By JOHN McCALLUM
If it’s December it must again be time for one of my favorite topics – the NCAA bowl payouts.
Not that the NCAA is doing any paying out. They’re doing the reaping, and not so grimly.
Between Dec. 21 and Jan. 6 there will be 35 games distributing over $148.6 million, at least as far as my calculator could calculate, to 70 teams and their respective conferences.
Actually the money goes to the conferences first, and is then divied out, so everybody benefits in some way.
I’ve written about the impacts of bowls on college sports several times in the past, and from a variety of angles, so there’s not much new to add. It’s a lot of money, and that doesn’t count what local businesses take in from alumni making the trip to support their teams, most of who wouldn’t be making a postseason appearance under a playoff system.
So let’s have some fun with numbers, shall we. First, the bowl season encompasses basically a four-week stretch, albeit the front and end weeks are short.
Week one, Dec. 21, the payout is a miserly $2,381,250 over four games, two of which feature Pac-12 teams Washington State and USC. If the Cougars can knock off Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl they’ll earn some of a $456,250 payout while the Trojans will get a slice of $1.1 million by downing Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Week two, Dec. 23-28, is a bit more lucrative at $15.075 million for 11 games featuring the venerable Beef O’Brady (my favorite), Little Cesaer’s Pizza, Fight Hunger, Belk and Russell Athletic bowls. A couple more Pac-12 teams play for the money this week: Oregon State in the Hawai’i Bowl ($850,000) and Washington in the Fight Hunger ($837,500).
Week three is where the real mullah comes out – more than $110.3 million is distributed in 18 games. A good chunk is handed out New Year’s Day at over $46.5 million, $18 million each from the Rose and Fiesta Bowls.
The Pac-12 can make a great haul here as five teams are playing for a combined payout of $26.4 million. All told, nine conference teams are competing for a sizeable share of $29,643,750 – a sum that might have been larger if Oregon had managed to make a BCS bowl.
Word is the Ducks faithful are feeling stiffed by the BCS because Oklahoma, ranked one slot below in the final standings, was picked to play Alabama in the $18 million Sugar Bowl over the Nike-outfitted gang from Eugene. I watched both teams play in the final weeks, and my opinion is Oklahoma played like they wanted a BCS bowl, any BCS bowl, whereas Oregon played like a team pouting at being denied a shot at a national championship by No. 5 Stanford and then a loss to unranked Arizona.
Yes, I am a Sooner fan, but I’m just sayin’.
Interestingly there are two games this week with a split payout formula: The Chick-fil-A Bowl Dec. 31 between Duke and Texas A&M and the BBVA Compass Bowl Jan. 4 featuring Houston and Vanderbilt. Chick-fil-A pays $3,967,500 to the ACC team and $2,932,500 to the SEC team while BBVA pays $1,000,025 to the SEC and $900,000 to the ACC.
Frankly it sounds like there’s a bit of collusion between the two bowls, but then who cares.
The final week’s games all take place Jan. 5-6 with two games: the $750,000 GoDaddy.com Bowl between 7-5 Arkansas State and 10-2 Ball State and the BCS Championship game Jan. 6 in Pasadena between Florida State and Auburn. That one is definitely the granddaddy of them all with a $22 million payout.
If all these figures make your eyes water and temples throb, me too. It’s a lot of money, money that maybe could be invested by the bowl sponsors elsewhere – like truly fighting hunger instead of staging a football game to raise awareness.
But then that awareness also raises revenue, for profit and non-profits alike.
So enjoy the show folks. And keep a calculator nearby for added fun.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.