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What ESPN's New Mega-Million-Dollar Rose Bowl Deal Means for Big Ten Football

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  A view of the yardage marker during the 97th Rose Bowl game between the Wisconsin Badgers and the TCU Horned Frogs on January 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Adam JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterNovember 16, 2016

The Sports Business Journal announced on Monday that ESPN is prepared to give the Rose Bowl a massive raise. Per the SBJ, the price tag on ESPN's contract with the Rose Bowl is going from $30 million a year to $80 million. That, as they say, will buy a lot of roses. They say that, right?

Here's more from the report:

ESPN has agreed to pay an average of $80 million a year for the Rose Bowl, industry experts say, which could push the price tag for the playoffs media rights as high as $600 million for an all-in package that includes a championship game, two semifinals and four major bowls each season.

ESPN’s deal with the Rose Bowl runs from 2015 through 2026, making it concurrent with the new playoff structure. The Rose Bowl’s new $80 million annual rights fee represents a 167 percent jump from the $30 million the network currently pays.

Two things here: First, the Big Ten's insistence that a playoff would somehow diminish the standing of the college bowl system is now officially, in ink, undeniably ridiculous. ESPN's new contract just added $50 million per year to the value of the Rose Bowl's television rights, and this new Champions Bowl between the SEC and Big 12 is likely to cash in as well.

Second, as far as what this means for the Big Ten, it's simple: money, and lots of it. The Big Ten and Pac-12 split the $80 million a year, so this is essentially a $2 million bump in annual income for each Big Ten member (actually $2,083,333, but if any schools would prefer the rounder number we'd be happy to take the difference off their hands).

That's money for new facilities, coaching bonuses, smaller athletic programs, athlete payment—ha, ha, ha! We kid! Athletes don't deserve money in the NCAA! What a joke we just told!

The best part of the deal is that it fundamentally alters nothing about the Big Ten's arrangement. The deal comes at the expense of nothing; it's just an increased windfall. The rich are just getting richer, which sure is nice when you're rich.

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