A Breakdown of This Season's Bowl Bonanza

Northern Illinois to the Orange Bowl! 17,500 seats to sell...average home attendance: 15,700. Good luck! - Dave Reginek

We take a look at how the bowls break down and how each conference profits.

‘Tis the season for bowl bonanza!

The bowl madness continues after the 2012 season. There was nothing more typical of how lame this system is than seeing UCLA play last year in a bowl game with a 6-7 losing record. Well, the bowl organizers must have thought that was a great idea so they're having Georgia Tech do it this year. It would be ridiculous, except we get to laugh at the fact that their opponent is former preseason #1 Southern Cal and their Heisman entitled (psych!) quarterback.

There are other ridiculous stories in this bowl season. Louisiana Tech, who is 9-3 and led the nation in scoring offense, refused its invite to the Independence Bowl...out of spite? A bizarre story, where apparently Tech was refusing to play in-state rival UL-Monroe because of some feud, though according to the school they just wanted more time to "shop around" and perhaps get into a better bowl. Dumb move either way.

But let's get down to the dirty details of the bowl and BCS system, and more specifically, to the Benjamins. You can find the details about the matchups here.

The total payout from all 35 bowls will be just under $275,000,000, to be divided amongst 70 teams (!), or nearly $4 million per team. That's more than half the total FBS schools, so in case it wasn't already clear, merit has little to do with this system. For the most part, it's just an exhibition game. Here is how it breaks down per conference:

Conference/Team


# of Bowl Teams


Total Payout


1


SEC

9

$55,945,025

2


PAC-12

8

$43,643,750

3


Big 10

7

$34,700,000

4


Big 12

9

$35,262,500

5


ACC

6

$28,780,000

6


Big East

5

$23,675,000

7


MAC

7

$21,012,500

8


Notre Dame *

1

$18,000,000

9


Sun Belt

5

$4,150,000

10


MWC

5

$3,306,250

11


CUSA

4

$3,225,000

12


WAC

2

$1,325,000

13


Navy *

1

$837,500

14


BYU *

1

$500,000

TOTAL


$274,362,525


No surprise, the SEC is once again king of the bowls, earning $12 million more than the nearest conference. But that conference, fortunately, is the PAC-12, which had a very good year and sent 8 teams to bowl games, including 2 to BCS games. That's how you rake it in. Now, mind you, that payout is shared equally amongst each team in the conference. But, as noted by the asterisks, some teams do not belong to a conference. The picture is slightly different once you take that into account:

Conference


# of Teams


Payout per team


1


Notre Dame

1

$18,000,000

2


SEC

14

$3,996,073

3


PAC-12

12

$3,636,979

4


Big East

8

$2,959,375

5


Big 12

12

$2,938,542

6


Big 10

12

$2,891,667

7


ACC

12

$2,398,333

8


MAC

13

$1,616,346

9


Navy

1

$837,500

10


BYU

1

$500,000

11


Sun Belt

10

$415,000

12


MWC

10

$330,625

13


CUSA

12

$268,750

14


WAC

7

$189,286

Clearly, this demonstrates the benefit of being Independent, with Notre Dame raking in all the bowl payout from its BCS Championship game appearance. Just to show how significant that is, it would take them over 6 years to earn that much if they were part of the Big 10 (where most think they belong). If you ask me, that's quite a racket. But the flip side is, if you're a team like BYU and don't have a very good year, you don't make quite as much as if you belonged to a major conference.

The table does show again, however, that the PAC-12 will still do quite well on a per team basis, second only to the SEC. The sham here is the Big East, with its joke of a BCS appearance, while the MAC gets a bonanza with Northern Illinois sneaking into a BCS game. It's all a big joke, we know, but good for them. Finally, while Wisconsin "earned their way" into the Rose Bowl, does anyone really think they belong there? Not to say it won't be a good game, but it's a shame for the Rose Bowl.

It seems Larry Scott has done quite well for the conference already. There is still more to do, of course. Mainly, the bowl tie-ins for the conference need to improve. The payout for the New Mexico Bowl, where Arizona will play, is a measly $456,250. Meanwhile, the lowest payout for the SEC will still be $1 million for the Compass Bowl. The Big 10 and Big 12 also earn over $1 million in their worst bowl game, so perhaps it is time to reconsider and renegotiate.

Bottom line is, of course, that bowl will still select teams that can bring fans into the seats. There are still some nice matchups for the football fanatics, so hopefully we will not let our cynicism get the better of us. All that matters is that UCLA has to beat Baylor in the Holiday Bowl.

Go Bruins!

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