Oregon vs. Kansas State would be the BCS Title Game, if it was played today. This may intrigue the football fan, but with Alabama and Notre Dame still in play, that may be the last game those with a vested financial interest want to see. The title game normally features the nation’s biggest programs. Oregon vs. Kansas State would move it into uncharted territory.
Here is Forbes’ list of the Top 20 most valuable football programs. Since 2003, every single game except 2006 has had at least one Top 10 team. That exception was Florida (No. 11) vs. Ohio State (No. 13). The only team outside the Top 20 to reach the BCS Final was Oregon in 2010.
The Oregon vs. Kansas State game would feature two programs outside the Forbes Top 20. How far outside? We don’t have Forbes’ complete list. Looking at athletic dept. revenue from 2006 to 2011, Oregon ranked 17th and Kansas State ranked 31st. Looking at profit, Oregon ranked 41st among FBS football programs. Kansas State ranked 44th. Using the profit list, only one other team outside the Top 15, USC, has reached a BCS Title Game since 2003. The alternative would be Notre Dame, No. 2 on the Forbes list.
Financial clout does not necessarily correlate with ratings. Alabama vs. LSU, with two Top 10 programs, drew really low ratings last year. That, though, was because the game was insular, had already happened that season and was awful when it did. If the choice is between Kansas State and Notre Dame, Notre Dame saw Champs Sports Bowl ratings rise 55 percent with its inclusion last season. Kansas State saw Cotton Bowl ratings drop 15 percent.
Kansas State is a great story, though one could draw a parallel with the Rays making the World Series. That was a great story. It resulted in record low World Series ratings. Those ratings came with a big market team in Philadelphia. This would be Kansas State in the title game, without an SEC, Big Ten, or Texas/Oklahoma to cushion the blow. Oregon is big with the kids and certainly a Top 20 program in present stature, but hardly is a traditional power.
An Oregon vs. Kansas State title game might provide a riveting contrast in styles for college football fans. Those with money tied up in attracting casual fans, though, will be rooting for Mack Brown. Should Notre Dame beat USC and Kansas State narrowly evade Texas, don’t be surprised to see a certain media company stoking the uproar.
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