College Football: Champions Bowl Revenue Model Is a Window into the Future

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterJune 18, 2012

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07:  Running back Trent Richardson #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs for a 49-yard touchdown against the Texas Longhorns in the second quarter of the Citi BCS National Championship game at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Earlier this morning we talked about the likelihood that the power conferences draw out this play to control the future of college football. In the same Kirk Bohls article in the Austin American Statesman, the Champions Bowl and its revenue model garners some mention as a point of contention:

One sticking point in the playoff talks could be the Champions Bowl pairing the winners — or runners-up — of the SEC and Big 12. Those two leagues plan to keep all the revenue from that New Year's Day evening game starting in 2015, whereas the Big Ten and Pac-12 agreed long ago that revenue from the Rose Bowl would be shared as part of the BCS money pot.

While the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl and Fiesta Bowl have all tied themselves to the BCS and have agreed to distribute revenue, the Champions Bowl is a power play of epic proportions. The SEC and Big 12 plan on keeping all the funds generated by their bowl game.

That's a big move and—most importantly—a window into where the sport is headed.

Put simply, the Big 12 and SEC recognize that they are losing precious dollars by propping up teams that have absolutely zero value to them. In contributing funds to "the BCS" as a whole, the bowl games are helping with the disbursement of funds to the MAC, WAC, Sun Belt, Conference-USA and the like.

But, why?

Those leagues are not drawing the crowds. Those leagues are not drawing the television eyeballs. Those leagues are not drawing the advertisers. 

As you can see from the debate over how to divvy up the new playoff money, the power schools are going to be paying close attention to how much money they give people who do not actually increase the value of the product.

And, while the playoff cash must be meted out across the board to appease teams, the bowl money is going to see a shift as the BCS expires.

The Champions Bowl is the first of these moves.

By grabbing the revenue for themselves and not sharing the cash, the big leagues will be pushing to increase the gap between the haves and the have-nots.

As the revenue for everyone increases, the boxing out of the little guys for games like the Champions Bowl is likely to become a trend, as the big schools look for even more ways to grow their cash reserves.