News flash: College football is run by corporate America | Sidelines

College football is big business.

“Deepthroat” didn’t feed me that information and I’m not going to win a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting for pointing that out. Everybody knows that the “amateur” sport of college football makes a lot of money for a lot of people.

To fully understand the corporate greed of college football, just take a look at the names of the 35 bowl games that are currently being contested.

Every single one of them has a corporate sponsor in its name. Even the self-described “Granddaddy of Them All,” the Rose Bowl, has a sponsor — The Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio.

But that doesn’t even compare to some of the other corporations who will put their names on bowl games this holiday season.

Here is a partial list of some of the better ones: The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Bowl, Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Belk Bowl, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, Fight Hunger Bowl, Gator Bowl and the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

But there are two bowl games that feature more words than most of the players have read during their college careers — the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl and the Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl. I’m still wondering how organizers get those names on the winner’s trophy?

I guess the best answer to that question comes from the NCAA. Unlike other college sports, the football postseason isn’t run by the governing body. Instead, the NCAA allows these private corporations to start their own bowl games, invite teams to play and to come up with those hokey names.

The biggest driving force to keep the current bowl system in tact actually comes from ESPN.

The cable network currently has the rights to 33 of the 35 postseason games and even owns seven of the bowls. ESPN also spends $125 million a year just to televise the five Bowl Championship Series (BCS) games.

“Our No. 1 goal is to find a multi-year relationship with a sponsor. We don’t want to be in the rebranding business every other year,” said Pete Derzis, senior vice-president and general manager of ESPN Regional Television, in a Bloomberg Businessweek article.

The whole corporate bowl-naming phenomenon started with the 2006 Chick-fil-A Bowl, which felt people were chopping off the beginning of the officially named Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Finally, they just dropped the “Peach” and the rest is history.

Obviously, money talks and you-know-what walks. Bowl game sponsorship is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to money funneling into college football. It just isn’t funneling to the ones playing the game.

While coaches and conferences are making millions, the ones actually bringing fans into the stadium — the athletes — are left with their scholarships and nothing else.

According to an article at, the revenue of the powerhouse college football teams reaches into the tens of millions of dollars a year. The University of Texas generated $93million in pure revenue in 2010, including $36 million in ticket sales alone.

Alabama and Auburn are tied at second by generating $76 million, followed by Georgia ($75 million), Penn State ($73 million) and Florida ($73 million). Even lower-level schools like the University of Miami-Ohio and Northern Illinois, both generate $23 million a year.

The money is mostly due to television contracts inked by certain conferences.

In March, FOX and the Big 12 revealed a new 13-year cable deal worth a reported $90 million annually, or $1.17 billion over the length of the agreement.

Then in May, the Pac-12, which includes Washington and Washington State, agreed to terms with both ESPN and FOX to establish the richest media rights deal in college sports. The contract goes into effect next season and is worth $225 million per year for 12 years.

Remember, college football is big business.


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