IT AIN’T HAPPENING
The big push from the media during this 2020 pandemic season of college football was to expand the field for the College Football Playoffs. Some of the sports “talking heads” have suggested this would be a perfect time to move to eight teams with some schools, specifically Ohio State, having to be forced to play a limited amount of contest due to COVID. A few have had the audacity of pushing for a 16 team field with their reasoning being that the lower NCAA division do it so why can’t the “BIG BOYS” do the same.
This, my loyal readers, is something that will not come to fruition this season or in the near future. Why, you ask? Let me indulge you with my reasoning and it is strictly financial as well as first hand knowledge.
A few years ago, at the press conference at the Outback Bowl signing party in Tampa, I had a chance to interview both athletic directors of the participating schools one on one. To both, I posed the same question and it was a simple one. Being that football covers a majority of your entire athletic budget, how many home games a year do you need to cover your bills?
Both of the AD’s were completely candid.
One said that he needed seven games but, every fourth year, he needed eight home games or one neutral site contest to balance his budget.
The other AD said that he needed seven home games a year to cover his nut. The reason for not needed that eight home contest is that his stadium held in excess of 100,000 fans.
I then asked him, not really expecting an answer, how much he made on a home game from ticket sales. To my surprise, he immediately responded $4 million.
So, ladies and gentlemen, that’s just ticket revenue from over 10 years ago. No parking or concessions or memorabilia. That’s a lot of greenbacks and, keep in mind, that just doesn’t cover the football budget but also all other athletic programs at the Power 5 level.
If it was a normal season where Covid is not the overlying factor,
the Power Five along with the Group of 5 schools would be playing 12 games. If you go to a bowl game, that makes 13. Add on a conference championship tilt and that makes 14 and, if you’re lucky enough to get to the College Football Playoff finals, that makes 15. That’s a lot of football for amateur student-athletes.
If you do the math on an expanded playoff, that would mean some schools would play 16 or 17 games. That’s longer than the National Football League’s regular season and you don’t want to pay these collegiate players? That would open up another Pandora’s Box which would take at least a column or two to cover.
The only other alternative
is to cut back the playing season from 12 to 10 games. That would be met with a wall of resistance by athletic directors who would now be forced to lose the revenue from one, or possibly two, home football games.
For that reason, don’t look for the CFP to be expanded in the near future. Some universities, that have been cash strapped by not being able to allow fans into their venues due to the coronavirus, may be forced to shutter they programs if the pandemic continues into the 2021 collegiate football season. They will be in no position to cut back a revenue stream of home football games if unlimited fan participation is finally allowed next season so they can recoup their losses from 2020.
As you can plainly see, the expansion of the CFP would cost money for more schools than those institutions that would make money. Right now, with an uncertain climate for the 2021 season, that’s something I don’t expect the NCAA to do.
The almighty dollar is the bottom line and that’s why the playoffs will not be expanded. End of story.