College Football is Thriving in the Power Five, but Elsewhere It Is On Life Support Paid by Students

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IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

I feel bad for Kanell. He's like senile Aunt Bethany in Christmas Vacation where she just spouts off weird stuff then out of nowhere waxes poetic.

"You're the patron saint of the totally effed" - Hot Tub Time Machine

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LandonTruckedCollins's picture

You're not going to take away my MAC-tion. Period.

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BTBuckeye's picture

"Hey, maybe a lot of these FCS and FBS football programs just straight up shouldn't exist."

Yup. It's going to happen. Or a major re-structure of some kind.  

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buckeye phi's picture

Along those lines - I've been saying for years that the FBS is too big.  For instance, a majority of the teams have no real shot at ever playing for a national championship (witness UCF's undefeated "national championship" team two years ago). 

One solution would be to split the FBS roughly in half.  Let the group-of-five conferences have their own championship playoff, etc.  They could restructure their system to more realistically fit within their means. 

That doesn't mean there aren't Power 5 teams that are unlikely to have a realistic shot at playing championship level football any time soon (and hence, reap the financial benefits from that) - but I believe it would be a significant improvement -

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement. - Will Rogers

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GVerrilli92's picture

Buckeye Phi it's good to see you posting again!!

I completely agree and would be interested in taking it a step further even. I'm not sure if you're familiar with the premier league across the pond, the most elite "football" league in the world. But they have a feeder league that makes it possible for teams to join the Premier. The worst team in the premier is replaced by the best team in the feeder each year, or something to that effect. I'm not going to pretend to understand soccer.

How cool would it be to have something similar to that in CFB?
- 60 teams at the 'Premier' level, 60 teams at the next level, 60 teams at the next
- 6 (geographically sensible) conferences of 10 teams
- 9 conference games and conference championship between best two records
- OOC games must be in your same "league"
- 6 conference champions, 2 highest ranked champs get a bye, 3 round playoff
- If your team places dead last in two consecutive years, it is replaced by the best regional feeder team the next season (win%, championships, whatever)

Then you could legitimately see fairy tale stories like Boise State and the Knights turn slowly into real powerhouses.

Kitties aren't supposed to smell like cigarettes, they're supposed to smell like kitties.

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buckeye phi's picture

Thanks, GVerrilli92. 

That's a great idea, by the way.  It'll never happen - but it's a great idea -

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement. - Will Rogers

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NewPhilaFan's picture

It's called promotion and relegation.  Here is the explanation from Wikipedia for the top 8 levels.  It goes even further than 8 levels.

Promotion and relegation rules for the top eight levels

Premier League (level 1, 20 teams): The bottom three teams are relegated.

English Football League Championship (level 2, 24 teams): Top two automatically promoted; next four compete in the playoffs, with the winner gaining the third promotion spot. The bottom three are relegated.

English Football League One (level 3, 24 teams): Top two are automatically promoted; next four compete in playoffs, with the winner gaining the third promotion spot. The bottom four are relegated.

English Football League Two (level 4, 24 teams): Top three teams are automatically promoted; next four compete in playoffs, with the winner gaining the fourth promotion spot. The bottom two are relegated.

National League (level 5, 24 teams): The champions are promoted; next six compete in playoffs, with the winner gaining the second promotion spot. The bottom four are relegated to either North or South division as appropriate.

National League North and National League South (level 6, 22 teams each, running in parallel): The champions in each division are automatically promoted; next six teams in each division compete in playoffs, with the playoff winner in each division getting the second promotion spot. The bottom two teams in each division relegated to either Northern Premier League, Southern League or Isthmian League as appropriate. If, after promotion and relegation, the number of teams in the North and South divisions is not equal, one or more teams are transferred between the two divisions to even them up again based on geographic factors.

Northern Premier League Premier Division, Southern Football League Central Division, Southern Football League South Division and Isthmian League Premier Division (level 7, 22 teams each, running in parallel): The champions in each division are automatically promoted; next four teams in each division compete in playoffs, with the playoff winners also promoted. The bottom two teams in each division and two 20th-placed teams with lowest points per game ratio relegated to a level 8 division as appropriate. If, after promotion and relegation, the number of teams in the divisions is not equal, one or more teams are transferred between the four divisions to even them up again.

Northern Premier League Division One North, Northern Premier League Division One South, Southern Football League Division One East, Southern Football League Division One West, Isthmian League Division One North, Isthmian League Division One South Central and Isthmian League Division One South East (level 8, running in parallel, 20 teams in each division): The champions in each division are automatically promoted; next four teams in each division compete in playoffs, with the playoff winners also promoted. The bottom team in each division plays a level 9 runner-up club in one-off matches, with the losing team from level 8 relegated to a level 9 division as appropriate. If, after promotion and relegation, the number of teams in the divisions is not equal, one or more teams are transferred between the divisions to even them up again.

69 in 18

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JTFor President2016's picture

Personally, I have felt like CFB is growing, relative to the other major sports. Yes, attendance is declining. But that is true across every sport. Yes, Alabama and Clemson have won the last 4 titles, but their level of dominance pales in comparison to the Warriors, who ruined the NBA the last few seasons. I'm tired of the "Well there are only 8-10 teams capable of winning the title every year". In what sport is that not the case? Hockey maybe? 

I did think there was some potential in his idea of making the Spring Games, actual games against FCS schools. The issue, however, is that only a handful of teams would draw enough TV + in-stadium audience to cover the bill paid to the FCS team. 

Elliott dots the eye, on this national championship win. 

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BuckeyeBen7.7's picture

Sorry Johnny, but I actually love Kanell’s idea of playing FCS teams in the spring. It lets the guys play against a different team, and you’ll learn more from that than you would playing yourself. I think fans would be more interested. Are you gonna sell $200 tickets? No. But how many fans who can’t see a regular game would pay $20 to see a halfway normal game? I’d say a lot, plus how many more people would tune in on tv. I’d venture to say it’s way more. More fans of that team will be interested for one. And when it comes to other teams, people will watch. Nobody cares about someone else’s spring game. But seeing Michigan play, dare I say, someone like Appalachian State? That’s interesting. (Yes I know they’re FBS now, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up).

Your best players usually only play a series or two at the max in a typical spring game anyways, so you’re not changing anything there. Anyone who plays is going to be battling for a starting job or position on a depth chart, so no one is likely to sit out. And if they’re not 100%, you simply just don’t play them. I for one think it’s a fantastic idea.

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VintonCountyBuck's picture

I’ve been saying this for years also.  I love the idea of playing them in the spring and then having the regular season be all about the big boys.  I think just the simple format of a scrimmage/warm-up game would lend itself to more upsets of Appalachian State proportions.  It could have a lot of potential.

“Right now, Michigan is not at the pinnacle of college football, and that’s all Urban Meyer cares about...He’s been there and knows what it takes to get there.” 

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NewPhilaFan's picture

I like the idea in concept however I don't see the FCS schools taking away many bucks from a spring exhibition game.  Set aside OSU which could fill the stadium for a game like this.  How many people would go see YSU play at Pitt?  Maybe 20,000 and even at $20 a ticket that is only $400 K which is much less than the $1 M they might get for a beatdown in September.  Plus the home team would have to eat all of the costs.  Which means more money from students since only a few P5 schools are self supporting.

This results in needing more $$ from the host school students and more $$ from the visitors students also.

69 in 18

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Hovenaut's picture

Velma Dinkley was a hip lady.

Yeah, Kanell is weird (no shortage of weird ex-FSU QB's out there), but at least he's serving some interesting food for thought.

Placing a majority of the cost for major college football on the shoulders of students doesn't seem like a viable long-term financial model for the sport.

I had to run away high, so I wouldn't come home low...

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VintonCountyBuck's picture

I think you need to point out that Arizona State Students also get free tickets to ALL sporting events, on campus with that $75 fee they charge.  I would venture to say there isn’t a fan on this site that wouldn’t jump at the chance, here in Columbus.

“Right now, Michigan is not at the pinnacle of college football, and that’s all Urban Meyer cares about...He’s been there and knows what it takes to get there.” 

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Johnny Ginter's picture

I think you need to point out that Arizona State Students also get free tickets to ALL sporting events, on campus with that $75 fee they charge.

i did. also:

  • every ASU student has to pay that fee, whether they attend games or not
  • ohio state football is a much, much better product on average than ASU football
  • because of that, osu would never allow a flat student fee to get into games for "free"
  • and even if they did, it would have to be a hell of a lot more than 75 bucks to sustain 200 mil in revenue

my major point here is that sports in colleges should justify themselves. "prestige" or nostalgia or whatever shouldn't be an excuse to take tens of millions of dollars from the school and students.

VintonCountyBuck's picture

Thanks for the reply Johnny

i did. also:

every ASU student has to pay that fee, whether they attend games or not
ohio state football is a much, much better product on average than ASU football
because of that, osu would never allow a flat student fee to get into games for "free"
and even if they did, it would have to be a hell of a lot more than 75 bucks to sustain 200 mil in revenue

I would upvote you here if I could.  I just simply love the idea of students enjoying the atmosphere of a collegiate sporting event for free (via the minimal athletic fee), wether it be football, basketball or lawn darts..

“Right now, Michigan is not at the pinnacle of college football, and that’s all Urban Meyer cares about...He’s been there and knows what it takes to get there.” 

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Byaaaahhh's picture

A lot of OSU sporting events are free for students, but obviously not football or basketball. 

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ChicagoBuckMD's picture

True but you can also get into Kent State @ Arizona St for 8 bucks so slightly different marbles here

https://www.captainticket.com/NCAA-Tickets/Arizona-State-Sun-Devils-Foot...

Actually I'm very jealous - looks like both USC and Oregon are coming to ASU and you can get in the door for 40 or less

"Why be around average?" - UFM

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BrooklynBuckeye's picture

If this works the way Florida State's does, then the free ticket allotment is only equal to the number of tickets not sold to the event. So, at FSU, students pay an athletic fee that provides them free entry to all sporting events. That's amazing! But when a game is a hot ticket (Florida, Miami, Clemson or whoever in football, Duke sometimes in basketball), students camp out for tickets not knowing how many tickets are actually available. It turns out the number of available tickets is just however many tickets they didn't sell by the day before the game (plus a small mandatory student allotment). This works at most schools, but would not work at a place like Ohio State. There would be way less students at good games if they were only in the stadium in seats the school couldn't sell tickets to. 

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GrandTheftHarley's picture

Tho an Ohio State fan and former student (1978), I wound up graduating from UT/Arlington in 1986. The Movin' Mavs dropped football while I was there in '85. Despite the talk of reviving the program in Arlington, huge financial obstacles may squelch further consideration.

https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/college-sports/collegesports/2018/10/25/exclusive-ut-arlington-considering-reviving-football-program-30-years-after-disbanded

Sad to say, but the gulf between the haves and have-nots in collegiate sports is widening.

I am not very smart, but I recognize that I'm not very smart. --- W.W. Hayes

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kaiser's picture

When they are discussing whether to bring football back behind closed doors, it has very little to do with sports.  As of Fall 2016, the student body of UTA was 61% Female and 39% Male.  Colleges do not work like ladies night at a bar.

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GrandTheftHarley's picture

it has very little to do with sports.

You are correct with that part of your statement, Kaiser. It has everything to do with money.

I am not very smart, but I recognize that I'm not very smart. --- W.W. Hayes

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Dillon G's picture

It’s why I support the one time plan of rotating Ohio schools, once per year, and letting them in on that cash. Kent, BG, YSU, you name it. If the team we’ll line up, then do it. But that is just me.

Like when Mike Tyson retired previously undefeated Michael Spinx, and we sat around saying would you fight Mike Tyson? Yes. For seven figures, I will give it my best.

#walkaway

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smith5568's picture

Hey Johnnie, I stand by my comment that any [college] football is good football.  

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Ethos's picture

Wouldn't this be a similar argument against highschool football?  Why are my taxes paying for the highschool to have a football team?  They don't make money for the school, so we should get rid of it.  Right?  You are asking the same thing just the next level.  It's about alumni, its about pride, its about community.  These you can't put a price on.  Believe me, these schools do the financial juggle and they know what they are bringing in, and they know what they would NOT be bringing in if they didn't have a team that exposed the name of their university to people on TV.  

I'm totally on board with changing competition levels, no different then how we treat highschool divisions, but outright banning a team because the school or people who attend the school have to pay for it to exist is a bad argument.  

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

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BuckNut_1974's picture

My thoughts exactly. Guess I should have read through the comments before posting my comments.

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Buddha's picture

I say 4 16 team conferences, 10 games 9 in conference and 1 out all games against one of the 64, conference championship, automatic playoff bid for the champion , 16 team playoff with others selected by committee, seeding - 1 plays 16 on 1s home fieldetc , Once down to 8, go to neutral sites. Frankly end Division 1 football everywhere else and if ND does not want to play in a conference - too bad.

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kaiser's picture

The problem with this and almost every other similar article is that it assumes football is about sports, when it is more about enrollment, community and fundraising.  

Wake Forest has enrollment statistics online that provide a really insane example.  In Fall 2016, they had 2,150 male students and 2,368 female students.  Of the 554 male Freshmen only 35 were black or African American.  Photos of their 2016 football recruiting class on 247sports show that 14 of their 22 commits were black or african american.  Their 2016 basketball recruiting class signed 4 black or african american men.  So, 18 out of the 35 black or african american freshman at Wake Forest in 2016 were on either the football or basketball team.  If they were not there, would the other 17 have still gone to Wake Forest?  If they were not there, how many of the 47 black or african american women would have enrolled?   At some point, white high school students might start to look around and say . . . damn this place is so white that even I am uncomfortable.  Wake Forest is the kind of place its Trustees want it to be only because it is willing to dump money into sports.

I don't want to create the impression that football is about race, because I think it is much more about enrolling male students.  When Ohio Dominican started its football team (around maybe 2010?) they were pretty open that their goal was to put 100+ male students on campus.  

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BuckNut_1974's picture

"Hey, maybe a lot of these FCS and FBS football programs just straight up shouldn't exist."

That probably sounds a bit callous coming from the likes of an Ohio State fan with an athletic department swimming in gold and rubies, so I'll be blunt and even more mean: if a collegiate athletic department needs to collect either tens of millions of dollars or more than 50% of its operating revenue from students and the university to maintain expensive sports like football, it should not have those sports. Period.

 I dont disagree, but that same argument could be used for almost all high school football programs as well because they aren't self sustaining. They rely on taxes. And to an extent so do public universities.

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BuckeyeGoneNuts's picture

This article and others like it conflate different issues and aspects of college football. 

From a purely financial perspective, each school can do the math as to whether it's worth it for them to fund the football program or not.  It's not just money from ticket sales that factors into it either, schools factor in the fact that wealthy alumnus X is more likely to donate $10 million to pay for the new chemistry wing if he's there every week on campus watching the football team.  If football is an overall money loser, they can always just drop it.  The fact that they don't just drop it is because when they factor in everything in their particular equation, it turns out it's worth it to fund the program.  Looking just at direct revenue vs expenses captures just one sliver of the total equation.  Also, using the logic of "it doesn't pay for itself, why are students paying for it", you'd have to get rid of just about all high school football programs as well, they are largely funded by taxpayer dollars.

From a competition perspective, to me it just doesn't make sense to have teams competing on the field that are too vastly different in terms of talent and resources. It also makes for an unappealing product on the field, and yet fans are asked to pay top dollar for it.  There is no reason to have these lopsided matchups, other than for the beatdown victim to cash the check and fund (part of) their program. 

With all the health related issues (concussion stuff etc) and the dwindling revenues for marginal programs, it makes sense to have a significant reduction in number of football programs, a consolidation resulting in a smaller group of "haves" that compete every week.

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CowCat's picture

I really don't see the problem in all of this.

Consumers (prospective students) have the freedom of choice. Don't pay for a package deal you don't agree with.

 If a university A charges $XX,XXX a year in tuition, board and fees, that university will spend it how they see fit. It's not just football. It's also for non-revenue sports, the fine arts, the marching band, campus construction and upkeep, and all sorts of university bureaucrats who do next-to-nothing while getting paid 6 figures -- Or, in the case of the Ivy league, they charge out the wazoo just to have that school's name on your degree.

You get what you get when you choose to attend a certain school. It's not an a la carte menu. You don't have the choice to not fund football, just as you don't have a choice to not fund certain majors -- just as I don't have control over how a certain mutual fund invests my assets. I either buy into that mutual fund as-is or I don't.

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

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STARDUST's picture

I live in Oxford, Miami employees have told me that student fees for intercollegiate athletics have been almost $1000/ year for the last 4 years. Amazing they continue to grow enrollment while gouging people like this. Their once great ice hockey team has not faired well since they moved to a new league. Synchronized skating is their top sport and it doesn't pay for itself.

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OH-IO's picture

The SEC! SEC! eliminating cupcakes? 

#SMH

OH-IO living in SEC! SEC! Ville

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