CBS News' 60 Minutes Reports on Arms Race of BCS College Football

Mike Raffone@theemikeCorrespondent IINovember 19, 2012

Alabama coach Nick Saban reluctantly admitted that he could only savor last year's BCS title for about two hours before fretting about the next season.
Alabama coach Nick Saban reluctantly admitted that he could only savor last year's BCS title for about two hours before fretting about the next season.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

This weekend, CBS News' 60 Minutes reported on an "arms race" of sorts in the world of NCAA College Football. The show featured CBS' Armen Keteyian visiting head football coaches at the University of Michigan and the University of Alabama as well as chatting with Michigan's business-minded athletic director Dave Brandon.

Keteyian's interviews affirmed what every American college football fans surmised: elite BCS programs are big businesses and success at these institutions comes at a very high price.

The 60 Minutes segment captured not only the raw excitement but also the palpable stress that accompanies competitive environments at big time football schools like Alabama and Michigan.

Keteyian further articulated that a "college football arms race" existed among schools willing to participate—although only 22 out of 125 existing BCS eligible schools are profitable and the sustainability of competing in such a race for most schools is totally improbable.

Keteyian referenced the eagerly anticipated 2015 national playoff in college football and the extreme preparations schools like Alabama and Michigan have undertaken. They work hard to ensure that their schools continue to reap the bounty of riches available to colleges that can finish atop the national media football polls.

To amplify how a storied football program at a respected academic institution weighs in so importantly to the school's bottom line, Keteyian interviewed former Domino's CEO Dave Brandon. Now Michigan's savvy, yet fiscally-focused athletic director, Brandon appeared as if he never took off his C-level marketing hat from his Domino's days.

Brandon personified the new breed of slick, big money-conscious ADs at power conference schools. He exuded a pressure-packed, competitive and all-out striving demeanor that the casual observer would never have expected from a staff member of an elite academic institution like Michigan.

Branden cited that Michigan football generates 75% of the total $133M athletic budget he manages for the school's 29 athletic programs. No wonder Michigan hired the former Domino's CEO to run its athletic department and oversee the privately-funded $250M+ facelift of Michigan's famed 112,000-seat Big House stadium.

Keteyian's piece continued its focus on the incomprehensible pressure to perform and produce for coaches at elite BCS football schools.

Ironically, Keteyian's interviews unearthed highly-stressed, workaholic and well-known football coaches rather than mentors with a desire to build to build strong young men of character over NFL draft picks.

Michigan's Brady Hoke grudgingly admitted his regular 5:45am to 9:30pm daily work hours. And Alabama's $5 million-per-year coach Nick Saban reluctantly confessed stressing about his next season's challenges only two hours after winning last year's BCS Championship.

How sad! Where's the fun? Is it really worth the strain?

Keteyian's piece begged for more from viewers. A follow-up 60 Minutes segment is warranted on several fronts.

First, where does all the money go when collected from the respective conferences for bowl game participation and television rights? Also, how much money is generated from licensing royalties and how is it disbursed throughout the university?

Second, at what price comes success? Coincidentally, this weekend top graduation rates from BCS schools were posted with glowing scores from Stanford, Duke, Northwestern, Boston College and Vanderbilt. It would be enlightening to learn how the SEC schools fared in comparison. Are they preparing their football players for graduation and the workforce, or just for their playing season?

Third, how does the NCAA governing body handle those schools which have blurred ethical boundaries, stepped over the line academically or outright recruited and/or harbored criminals on their university rosters?

Look forward to Keteyian continuing down this same path at some time in the future.

Big money college athletics beckons a bevvy of big time questions and outright visibility from an interested American sports public.

Kudos to 60 Minutes for at least starting its closer look into college football's "arms race."


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