Category Archives: Football

Neutral Site Game Payouts

Neutral Site College Football Game Payouts

Neutral Site Game PayoutsWhile technically the FBS football season kicked off last night with Abilene Christian at Georgia State, tonight we get some ranked teams and the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game!

For the past few years, the college football season has always started with neutral-site games. The two major ones have been the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic (since 2008) and the Cowboys Classic (since 2009). This year there will be two Chick-Fil-A Kickoff games: Ole Miss vs. Boise State (tonight – August 28) and Alabama vs. West Virginia (August 30). There will also be one Cowboys Classic game which pits Florida State against Oklahoma State (August 30).

Neutral site games have proven to be extremely lucrative for the teams participating in them. When teams venture to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA for the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic or AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX for the Cowboys Classic teams are typically giving up a lot; not only are they missing out on a potential home game, but they also lose all the revenues associated with hosting a home game such as ticket sales and concession sales. In addition, the surrounding area loses out on the revenues it usually makes when thousands of fans and alumni come into town for game day weekend. As such, payouts from these neutral site games have seemingly been enough to persuade teams to miss out on these potential earnings.

In last year’s Chick-Fil-A Kickoff, there was a total team payout to Alabama and Virginia Tech of $5 million. Typically, Alabama makes millions per game at Bryant-Denny Stadium, which seats over 101,000 people. Yet, the allure of being on center stage in a big city, coupled with the generous payouts has made playing in these games worthwhile. Alabama itself has played in 3 Chick-Fil-A Classics and 1 Cowboys Classic to date and is scheduled to play in one of this year’s Chick-Fil-A Classic games and next year’s Cowboys Classic. Furthermore, these games also have the potential to lure in key recruits as future players may be excited by the chance of playing for a big time school in a big time city.

Chick-Fil-A Kickoff

Year

Teams

Total Payout (Millions)

2008 Alabama vs. Clemson  $4.2
2009 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech $4.5
2010 LSU vs. North Carolina $3.6
2011 Boise State vs. Georgia $3.7
2012 Tennessee vs. NC State $4.2
2012 Auburn vs. Clemson $4.8
2013 Alabama vs. Virginia Tech $5.0
2014 Ole Miss vs. Boise State  $3.1
2014 Alabama vs. West Virginia $6.4 (expected)
2015 Louisville vs. Auburn  TBD

The payout for the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic has increased over the past few years. In 2012, one game has total team payout of $4.2 million, whereas the other game had a total team payout of $4.8 million. This year, the total team payout for the Alabama and West Virginia game is expected to be $6.4 million. However, in 2008 and 2009, the total team payouts were $4.0 million and $4.5 million respectively, and then decreased in 2010 and 2011, to $3.6 million and $3.7 million respectively. Thus, there has not always been an upward trend in determining payouts. To determine the payout, Chick-Fil-A keeps its $5.5 budget and then returns the revenues above the budget to the participating teams.

Numbers for the Cowboys Classic have been more difficult to confirm, but here’s what we do know….

Cowboys Classic

Year Teams Per Team Breakdown (Millions)

Total Payout (Millions)

2009 BYU vs. Oklahoma
2010 TCU vs. Oregon State $1.0
2011 LSU vs. Oregon $3.5/$2.0 $5.5
2012 Alabama vs. Michigan $4.7/$4.7 $9.4
2013 LSU vs. TCU ?/$3.0
2014 FSU vs. Oklahoma State
2015 Alabama vs. Wisconsin
2016 USC vs. Alabama
2017 Michigan vs. Florida $6.0/$6.0 $12

The Cowboys Classic has also seen its payouts increase over the years. In 2011, LSU earned $3.5 million and Oregon earned $2.0 million, for a total team payout of $5.5 million. In 2012, Alabama and Michigan both made $4.7 million, for a total team payout of $9.4 million. In 2017, Michigan and Florida are each expected to make $6.0 million, for an expected total team payout of $12 million.

After observing these trends, it is obvious that payouts are varying not only from team-to-team but from year-to-year. One explanation is that the more lucrative and successful teams are being paid more to participate in these games because they help generate more revenue. Another explanation is that the more a team stands to lose in revenue from giving up a home game (i.e. Michigan and Alabama due to their huge stadium capacities), the more these neutral site games are willing to payout. One thing is for certain, though: the neutral-site kickoff game, with its lucrative payouts, will be around for many more years to come.

EA Sports NCAA Football 2014 (1)

Are College Football Video Games Coming Back?

I EA Sports NCAA Football 2014spoke with a licensing director at a Power 5 school yesterday about the possibility of college football video games coming back after the O’Bannon ruling. You can see his answer in my latest piece for Outkick the Coverage. Or, if you prefer a podcast, you can check out my latest podcast for a full discussion.

Thus far, EA Sports has not replied to my request for comment.

Hancock's dog named "Dog" displayed prominently on his desk

Tour: College Football Playoff Office

Last October, I had the opportunity to tour the new College Football Playoff office. The Summit at Las Colinas is a fairly run-of-the-mill high-rise office tower located on the outskirts of Dallas in Irving. Nothing on the outside of the building would alert you that the most powerful entity in college football is housed inside its walls. There’s no big flashy sign. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I was at the right building (my GPS did actually lead me to a building across the highway first).

Stepping inside the lobby, you could imagine looking for the name of your doctor on the directory next to the elevator. There were the same assortment of businesses you probably have in your own office building. As a college football fan and analyst, I felt a rush of nerves being so close to the epicenter of it all, but no one else in the lobby seemed moved by the CFP’s presence in the building. Like the outside of the building, there was nothing inside the building shouting that this is the home of the CFP.

I took the elevator up and entered the office itself, and I was stunned. The CFP doesn’t even command its own floor, it only occupies a partial floor. There was a simple wooden desk for the receptionist and the CFP logo on the wall above it. That’s it. I’ve worked in law firms with grander entrances.

There was a pretty cool football design in the floor of the reception area, but as you’ll see in the slideshow below, the CFP office is a fairly normal business office. Sure, maybe they’ve got some great graphics on the walls featuring the national championship contenders and football helmets in the kitchen, but it’s just office space. After having visited numerous athletic departments and been treated to some pretty highly-orchestrated displays – think lighting effects and fight songs that are motion-detecting and begin as you enter the locker room – I was surprised the CFP office didn’t make a statement. Actually, I guess it did make a statement. It went something like this: Hello, I’m an office. People work here. Oh yeah, our work happens to involve college football.

If you’ve ever had the chance to meet Bill Hancock, you probably won’t be surprised that the CFP office is a fairly simple, functional space. If you haven’t had that opportunity, check out our latest Saturday Millionaires podcast for an interview with Hancock where he discusses everything from his policy that a real person answer all incoming calls during business hours to his 24-hour email response policy…and of course, his dog named “Dog” (pictured in the slideshow).

You can also check out some pictures from my office tour:

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Say Goodbye to Division IV

453653643In my opinion, Division IV was like Texas threatening to leave the Big XII; it was never going to happen. Texas wanted Longhorn Network and all the money that came with it, and the Power 5 (the ACC, Big XII, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) want autonomy within the confines of the NCAA.

Click here to keep reading my thoughts on why Division IV isn’t happening over on Outkick the Coverage.

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Conference Realignment Timeline

When I was writing my business of college football book, Saturday Millionaires, it was practically a full-time job keeping up with conference realignment from 2010-2013. Lucky for me, all got quiet about the same time I published the book, so you’ll find Chapter 4 is still a completely accurate tale of not only this round of realignment but previous rounds as well.

Feeling nostalgic for the good ole days when you never knew what conferences might look like in a week or a month or a year? Here’s a detailed timeline of how it all played out….

A big thank you to my intern extraordinaire, Lauren Nevidomsky, who helped me put this together!

Brighthouse Networks Stadium at UCF (photo credit: Breezy Baldwin via Flickr)

How much are college athletic facility naming rights worth?

Brighthouse Networks Stadium at UCF (photo credit: Breezy Baldwin via Flickr)
Brighthouse Networks Stadium at UCF (photo credit: Breezy Baldwin via Flickr)

UPDATE: Boise State’s new naming rights deal with Albertsons was unintentionally omitted. It has been added, which has changed the average annual values in the original post.

What’s the market value for naming rights deals on college athletic facilities? It’s much more difficult to estimate than if we were talking about professional athletics. Universities often complete these deals at less than market rate in order to acknowledge past gifts by major donors.

For example, naming right for Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium at University of Louisville is officially on the books as a $5 million donation for 52 years. In total, however, Papa John’s had donated approximately $22 million for the football stadium through 2011.  Would University of Louisville have agreed to a naming rights deal with a company it had never done business with previously for 52 years for $5 million? Not likely.

It’s not uncommon in these deals for past donations to be taken into account, causing the naming rights deal itself to be below market rate. That’s somewhat unique to college athletics thanks to its nonprofit status and history of relying upon donations.

We’ve recently updated our database for naming rights deals on college athletic facilities. Quite a few of the deals are for the life of the stadium or arena, and details of the deals aren’t always disclosed, especially when it involves a private university.

However, just for the sake of trying to pinpoint something approximating an average annual value, here are some average annual values based on what we do know: Continue reading

Adidas - Texas A&M

Selling Jerseys with Current Players’ Numbers Isn’t Worth the Risk

“…it’s foreseeable they might get out of the business of selling jerseys with numbers corresponding to current student-athletes if push came to shove.”

No. 12 jerseys will be the only ones available at retail for Texas A&M this year (photo credit: Adidas)
No. 12 jerseys will be the only ones available at retail for Texas A&M this year (photo credit: Adidas)

I made that prediction last August, and now it seems push has come to shove.

ESPN’s Darren Rovell is reporting today that several schools – Texas A&M, Arizona and Northwestern – will discontinue the use of current player’s numbers on jerseys, sidestepping any future litigation or obligation to split proceeds with student athletes. A licensing director told me last year he thought this would happen before schools would divide the revenue with student athletes, and certainly last week’s EA Sports settlement renews the discussion about sharing revenue arguably driven by student athletes with those student athletes.

At the end of the day, the revenue simply isn’t worth the risk for schools. As I reported for ESPN last year, schools don’t really make that much from jersey sales in the grand scheme of things (similar to their situation with regards to video game revenue). Here’s a sampling of jersey sales numbers from the 2012-2013 school year, which include jerseys for all sports, not just football: Continue reading