I am now a bigger proponent of a playoff system in college football than ever. I just finished the book, Death to the BCS, www.deathtothebcs.com. It’s an extensive and intense review of who, why and what the BCS is and it really opens your eyes. Basically, few people currently control the existing college bowl structure and the system is broken. Very few schools make money in the current situation.
Mark Cuban made headlines because he is reading the same book, and I have to say, I really agree with it. His proposal includes a “pot” for the championship bowl participants to overcome one of the super secrets of the BCS society. The most amazing thing to me is the financial impact of a bowl; much hype is made regarding the amount of money made. Most bowl participants lose money for three main reasons: travel, bonuses and ticket allotments. Allowances given to schools barely cover any of these expenses.
I’ve heard many excuses for no playoff is the travel expense. It costs a lot of money to send the band, players and other executives to the bowl game. Last year SMU took two mascots to Hawaii. I would hate to see how much that cost. Most bowls give a small allowance to cover these costs, but most of the time it barely covers the football team transportation.
Current salary structure of major college head coaches include bonuses for bowl games. These can be substantial and represent a large expense to the university. Most bowl game allowances don’t come close to covering these bonuses. Athletic department financial statements are hardly ever looked at by the every day public, yet I’m starting to see why. They are bleeding red all over. At one time, I thought it was great advertising; however, after reading the book I’m not so sure with the current bowl format.
Ticket allotments are something I never realized. When a school is invited to a bowl, the payouts are listed and everyone is excited. Little do we realize the excitement wears off pretty quick as evidenced by poor ticket sales by schools. When you watch ESPN and their bowl games this year, realize the school is given an allotment of tickets, any of these tickets not sold have to be purchased by the school. In essence, the school underwrites their own team. If a team doesn’t traditionally travel well, such as this year’s example of UConn, this can be a huge expense the school has to pay. The current structure doesn’t bode well for most teams.
The current system of college football is going to have to change. The book has tremendous ideas and I encourage you to read it.