Kvetching about college football’s scheduling problem has been happening for a few years now. The Wall Street Journal wrote about it in 2008, and ESPN’s Pat Forde tackled the issue in 2009. Naturally, it’s all about the benjamins (but the players are “student-athletes,” remember that!).
Programs say they must schedule as many home games (mostly against cupcakes) as possible because they’re so lucrative, but it also helps teams get to the .500 mark and into a mediocre bowl game (another source of income and job security). Jason Lisk tied it together nicely last December when blamed the proliferation of bad bowl games for a watered-down regular season. There’s absolutely no incentive to schedule sexy non-conference games. These days, if you want to try and find title contenders in August, look no further than the schedules (schedules are the reason I hit the ‘over’ on wins for Texas A&M & Auburn last year; I hit North Carolina too, but that was pure luck after all the suspensions.)
This season’s marquee non-conference games are few and far between and frankly much of the SEC (other than LSU) should be embarrassed.
Which brings us to Iowa. The Hawkeyes just shelled out $1.05 million – a school record! – for lowly Louisiana-Monroe to visit Kinnick Stadium this September. The quotes from Iowa’s associate athletic director will make you laugh:
“There are only so many schools that are willing to play games without a home-and-home relationship” … “Nonconference scheduling is always a challenge,” Abbott said. “It’s especially challenging when you’re not in a situation where you can always reciprocate.”
Everyone, sadly, is doing this. (Florida State paid Louisiana Monroe $1.3 million for a game.) Boise State entered into a deal with Ole Miss to play in 2011, but that’s been moved to 2014 and here’s the payout structure, with the last sentence pretty clearly making a point:
Stokan said Ole Miss will receive $2 million and Boise State will receive $1.1 million to play in the Aug. 28, 2014 game. Ole Miss will receive more money because it is giving up a home game.
Everything in college football revolves around money – massive TV deals, bowl games, scheduling. Which is why I think we’ll only hear more about paying the players in the coming months (Jay Bilas is doin’ work on that front).
As for Iowa, there is, of course, a slim chance Louisiana-Monroe pulls off the upset. It returns 10 starters and did shock a mediocre Alabama team in 2007. More likely, though, the Warhawks will show up, be competitive for a quarter or half, then lose, and take their hefty check and be on their way. [Hawk Central]