Re-Engineering Bowl Payouts And Better Nonconference Scheduling

Kenny SheaCorrespondent IJune 9, 2009

DALLAS - JANUARY 02:  The Field Scovell trophy after the AT&T Cotton Bowl on January 2, 2009 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

ESPN’s Pat Forde recently penned a piece lamenting why and how the quality of college football nonconference scheduling has, as he says, “gone the way of the wishbone.”

One of his main points is “more bowl games, more bowl revenue, and more pressure to play in bowl games.”

As most know the pressure of getting that coveted door prize otherwise known as a bowl payout is at an all-time high, particularly given this horrid economy. Understandable. However, it’s how the paychecks are divvied that is, in part, causing the limp-wristed scheduling techniques employed by too many large schools.

Getting to the bowl is all that matters for schools because the bowls hand out the same amount to each team regardless of who wins and who loses. So, it’s possible to assume that once a team gets there it couldn’t care less of the outcome because the check has already been cut with their name on it. Since getting there is all that matters, it schedules the weakest opponents during the regular season to ensure an invite.

And make no mistake, some programs don’t care about winning as long as they’re making bank. This is a disservice to the school, its fans, and the bowl match-up because it can lead to one team slumming through four quarters and taking home iPods, apparel, etc.

The way it stands now, here are some general payout numbers:

BCS National Championship: $17.5 million per conference

Rose, Orange, Sugar, and Fiesta: $17.5 million per team each bowl

Capital One Bowl: $4.25 million per team

Holiday Bowl: $2.3 million per team

Cotton Bowl: $3 million per team

Outback Bowl: $3 million per team

Each team largely gets an equal sum of money regardless of who wins or loses. The loser gets the same as the winner. What?

The ACC sent 10 teams to bowls last year, only to finish January with a 4-6 mark in said bowls. Does that sound right? On the income statement it does because it would have been the same whether they went 0-10 or 10-0.

Results don’t matter in college football anyway, so this is in perfect harmony.

Bowls allot a total amount toward both teams to begin with and just split it down the middle to make it easier I presume. What may need to happen is to award the winner a bigger share of the pie. For instance, instead of $3 million per team ($6 million total), award, say, $5 million to the winner and $1 million to the loser.

Give the team a bunch of caps, but no iPods or watches.

Implement that and you’ll see a change in both teams’ demeanors not only before the bowls, but also perhaps during the regular season.

Because you put a premium on, you know, actually winning the bowl, you pressure the coaches and players to better prepare. And better preparation could include scheduling better noncons during the regular season in an effort to “toughen up” the team in preparation for their bowl opponent.

So just showing up for the paycheck won’t be enough; your paycheck will shrink if you fail in the preparation department.

Besides, how much more common sensible could it be to award a winner the bulk of the winnings? You win, you get more? Capitalism at its finest. Because right now with bowls, all teams get the same trophy. It’s like little league around here.

Or welfare, however you want to look at it.