NCAA college football programs will take in more than $175 million in payouts from one-time “guarantee” games during the non-conference portion of the 2018 season. The +/- 12 schools participating in marquee neutral site showdowns (think: Washington/Auburn, Miami/LSU) will share more than $50 million in appearance fees, while the wealthiest and most dominant programs will spend $1 million+ on each of the 45+ games scheduled against lower quality competition; games designed to pad records (and add extra home dates to the calendar). Colorado State will take home the largest payment for a “guarantee” game this season, $2 million for their Sept. 15th game at Florida; a term negotiated as part of Jim McElwain’s $7.5 million buyout enabling him to join the Gators in ’14.
Howie Long-Short: Neutral site showdowns take place because of financial windfalls available to those who participate (the recruiting exposure doesn’t hurt either), not because they provide an opportunity to add a quality win to the playoff resume; if it were simply about SOS, we’d see more home and home series. Alabama received $5 million for playing in the ’17 Chick-fil-A Kickoff, 12x what the school earned for participating in last season’s Sugar Bowl (playoff) and National Championship games (excluding ancillary benefits). As for this past weekend, Washington and Auburn took home $4.1 million and $4.2 million, respectively; LSU earned $4.75 million. Miami (private) did not disclose any financial information.
While 14 teams will take home payments of at least $1.4 million for a single road game, no Group of 5 school will earn more from their non-conference schedule than Kent State; the Golden Flashes will collect $3.65 million for games at Illinois, Penn State and Mississippi. Of course, those on the receiving end of “guarantee” game payments (like Kent State) use the money to help fund their entire athletic departments.
Fan Marino: The University of Akron was scheduled to take on Nebraska, in Lincoln, on Saturday evening, but lighting forced the game’s postponement; “logistical challenges” prevented the game from being rescheduled, resulting in its cancellation. It’s unclear at this point if either team will add a 12th game (you need 6 wins to be bowl eligible), but perhaps the bigger concern from Akron’s POV is the $1.17 million payment the school was scheduled to receive for playing the game; NU deputy AD Bob Burton said it was “to be determined” if the Ohio school would receive the payment. It’s worth noting that South Dakota State University received its contracted payout ($425,000) for their season opener at Iowa State, another contest that was canceled due to inclement weather.
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