The Old Boys Club: 2011 College Football BCS Bowl Payouts

In conjunction with this week’s bowl games, I thought I would take a look at the payout for the 2011-2012 bowl games in college football.

As displayed in the charts, it pays to play in a BCS sponsored bowl. Conversely, it doesn’t necessarily directly pay to finish high in the AP rankings. Most conferences split their total bowl revenues amongst the members of their conference. For a team such as LSU that finished with an undefeated season and victories over 3 teams ranked in the top 4 throughout the season, they receive a similar bowl payout as Ole Miss (a team that finished 0-8 in SEC conference pay); notwithstanding an allowance amount for travel of a couple millions dollars that is likely representative of the actual travel costs LSU will incur carting alumni, players, coaches and the band to the BCS National Championship.

BCS Championships $182,800,000
Other Bowl Payouts $100,362,500
TOTAL $283,162,500

Payouts by Conferences
Big 10 $50,987,500
SEC $47,645,000
ACC $46,867,500
Big 12 $48,712,500
PAC-12 $40,850,000
Big East $31,337,500
Indpend. $3,875,000
C-USA $3,787,500
MAAC $3,281,250
MWC $2,556,250
Sun Belt $1,787,500
WAC $1,475,000

The second piece of data that sticks out when reviewing the charts is the large discrepancy between the ‘have’ and ‘have not’ conferences (i.e. any conference other than the top 6). If you compare the Mountain West Conference vs. the Big East, the MWC conference had two teams ranked in the top 15, while the Big East had 2 teams ranked in the top 25, but outside the top 20. If you compare the payouts to each conference as a %, the MWC only received 8% ($31 Million vs. $2.5 Million) of the payout rewarded to the Big East.

Payouts by AP Ranking

Rk * Team Conference Distrubution
1 LSU SEC $26,400,000 AQ **
2 Alabama SEC $6,100,000
3 Oklahoma St Big 12 $26,400,000 AQ **
4 Stanford PAC-12 $6,100,000
5 Oregon PAC-12 $26,400,000 AQ **
6 Boise State MWC $1,100,000
7 Arkansas Big 12 $3,625,000
8 Wisconsin Big 10 $26,400,000 AQ **
9 South Carolina SEC $4,550,000
10 Kansas State Big 12 $3,625,000
11 Virginia Tech ACC $6,100,000
12 Michigan Big 10 $6,100,000
13 Michigan St Big 10 $3,500,000
14 Clemson ACC $26,400,000 AQ **
15 TCU MWC $500,000
16 Baylor Big 12 $3,175,000
17 Houston C-USA $1,100,000
18 Georgia SEC $3,500,000
19 Oklahoma Big 12 $3,325,000
20 Nebraska Big 10 $4,550,000
21 Southern Miss C-USA $650,000
22 West Virginia Big East $26,400,000 AQ **
23 Penn St Big 10 $1,100,000
24 Cincinnati Big East $1,437,500
25 Florida St ACC $2,275,000

* Rank based on AP Poll as at start of 2011-2012 Bowl Season
** AQ: Automatic Qualifier Conference (Six BCS Confernces)

A big misconception that exists for fans not well versed in the BCS/bowl structure is that the current system rewards performance rather than conference affiliation. This couldn’t be further from the truth with the real payouts going to the membership of the power conference; ignoring performance throughout the regular season all together. This is why the recent re-alignment of college football teams doesn’t make sense from a geographic or rivalry perspective until the veil of the BCS is exposed.

As long as hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake each bowl season it is unlikely that the power conferences will ever reliquish their control of the BCS continuing to disguise the two tier system as a playoff for all NCAA Div.1 college football programs.

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