How Do Ohio State, Big Ten Football Programs Spend Their Money?

Buckeye CommentarySenior Analyst IMarch 5, 2009

You may have seen Scott Dochterman's breakdown of revenues and spending of Big Ten teams, but if not, it is worth a look. The list also gives the amount of money spent on recruiting all men's sports (Doc says roughly 50 percent is spent on football). There are some interesting observations to be made, and Adam Rittenberg does a good job pointing some of them out.

Not surprisingly, Ohio State led the league in both football revenue and expenses, while Michigan came in second in those categories but led in men's recruiting expenses ($929,383).

Penn State appears the be the most economically sound of the Big Ten programs, ranking third in football revenue ($53,766,038) but sixth in football expenses ($16,537,705) and ninth in men's recruiting ($534,741). Despite its recruiting expenses, Michigan also limits football expenses ($16,785,667).

It's interesting to see that both Minnesota and Illinois rank among the leaders in men's recruiting expenses—possibly a result of having recruiting-minded head coaches in Tim Brewster and Ron Zook. Also worth noting is Northwestern's ability to produce competitive football teams since 1995 despite ranking last in the league in football revenue ($21,080,405) and second to last in men's recruiting expenses ($482,588).

The revenue numbers go according to plan, as the most successful teams sell the most tickets in the largest stadiums (which they can build and fill because they are successful), while selling more paraphernalia around the country.

But I was a little surprised to see the expenses stats, especially when measured against both win percentage and revenue. I don't know if the expense numbers include items like capital improvements to facilities or coaches' salaries, but I doubt it.

For starters, Ohio State must treat really their players since they spend approximately twice as much as the average of the other 10 teams. Perhaps they are spending too much.

I was also shocked at how much Iowa spends. I know they have longer trips on average than the more centrally located teams like Ohio State and Michigan, but they spend a markedly higher percentage of their revenue than any other team. Maybe that increase in spending had something to do with increased success.

I also thought some of the recruiting numbers were unexpected. Penn State's seem low considering Happy Valley is difficult to reach, while Purdue's number seemed a little high for reasons unknown. Again, I would expect Minnesota's number to be higher since the school is geographically much farther for recruits to travel.

Again, there are some unknowns: Do schools pay recruits a per mile amount if they travel by car instead of plane? I dunno. Are these numbers skewed by the number of recruits a school brings in during a given year? Probably.

Finally, some odds and ends: How did Georgia make so much money ($67M)? How did Georgia Tech and West Virginia spend so much on recruiting ($1M)? What exactly does ND have to show for its colossal recruiting bill ($1.7M—more than OSU and UM combined)?

Money talks?

A (not-so) new occurrence in college football is big-time programs paying big dough to assistant coaches. Apparently, Gene Smith and tOSU do not feel obliged to play along. Smith was recently quoted as saying the school will not follow in the footsteps of Tennessee: "We're just not going there. ... For one thing, I think it's not right. And two, financially it's not being responsible with the dollars that our fans provide us."

While it is easy to admire Smith's nascent fiscal responsibility (read: starting Sunday), my mind instantly hatched a different set of thoughts.

Let me get this straight Gene—you just spent more than twice the average of every other Big Ten team (see above), and you raised ticket prices (again), but it would not be financially responsible to compensate those who are most directly responsible for your department's ginormous revenues with competitive, market salaries? Got it. Just checking.

Or maybe we can count Smith among those who want to see a change at offensive coordinator?