This year, 68 college football teams across the country will extend their season by one more game with appearances in Division I bowl games.
Bowl berths provide a variety of benefits to universities, especially as a source of revenue.
This year, the Big Ten stands to generate approximately $37 million in revenue from the seven bowl games to which the conference will be sending teams.
Roughly $12.65 million of that will be spent to cover the expenditures associated with sending teams to their bowl destinations. The remaining proceeds are shared by all Big Ten universities, regardless of whether their team received a bowl bid.
“Out of the bowl revenue, you’ll pull the money out for those bowl expenses, you’ll give that money to the schools and the rest of the money you’ll split up 11 ways and give an equal share to each school,” Big Ten spokesman Scott Chipman said.
After covering bowl expenses, the Big Ten will have an estimated $24.4 million remaining, meaning each university will receive approximately $2.2 million from 2009-10 bowl proceeds.
Most of the conference’s bowl money comes from sending teams to Bowl Championship Series games.
This year, the conference will receive $18.3 million for the first team chosen to play in a BCS bowl. The conference earned another $4.5 million when the University of Iowa was selected for the FedEx Orange Bowl.
The major conferences — the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and the Southeastern Conference — are each guaranteed to have at least one team playing in a BCS bowl game each year through 2013.
Non-BCS bowl games generate only a fraction of the bowl revenue for the Big Ten.
The payout for the Capital One Bowl, which is the Big Ten’s highest non-BCS bowl, is roughly $4.3 million. After covering bowl expenses, the conference only sees a profit of about $2.6 million. The Big Ten will also reap meager profits for the Outback Bowl, the Valero Alamo Bowl, and the Champs Sports Bowl, between $750,000 and $1.6 million per game.
The payouts for lower-tier bowls are only enough to cover the costs associated with a bowl trip. Because of this, the conference is not forfeiting any profit by failing to produce a team eligible to compete in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl. In addition, the Gophers berth to the Insight Bowl has a payout of $1.35 million — the same amount the conference has allotted the team for travel costs, which are determined prior to bowl selections.
Smaller conferences like Conference USA, the Mid-American Conference, the Mountain West, the Sun Belt Conference or the Western Atlantic Conference are not guaranteed a BCS bowl game unless one of their teams finish in the top 12 of the BCS Standings.
The benefits of a bowl berth go beyond the revenue they generate, according to University of Minnesota Athletics Director Joel Maturi.
“When you’re building a program, it’s hugely important,” Maturi said. “It’s a great thing from a recruiting standpoint, and it’s a great benefit and reward to the student-athletes.”
Bowl games are especially meaningful to seniors, as they provide one last opportunity to perform at the collegiate level.
“I’ve been watching games over the weekend where teams lose and go 5-7 or whatever and they can’t go to a bowl game, and that’d just be tough as a senior,” said senior defensive tackle Eric Small.
In order to become bowl eligible, teams must have an overall record of .500 or better.
Senior tight end Nick Tow-Arnett is looking forward to heading to Arizona to play in the Insight Bowl and described the trip as a “celebration.”
“It’ll be just a lot of fun going to a bowl game,” said Tow-Arnett.
In addition to serving as an end-of-season gala, teams earning a bowl trip are entitled to an additional two weeks of practice that would otherwise be restricted by NCAA regulations.
After defeating South Dakota State to become bowl eligible, head coach Tim Brewster commented on the additional practice time. “The extra 15 practices you get going to a bowl game is huge. It’s huge in the development, the continued development, of our program.”
Lee Campbell, a senior linebacker, agrees with his coach.
“The younger guys are able to go out, full contact, and you’re going to see if some guys are going to be able to step up in the spring and the next year, so it’s critical for developing as a team,” said Campbell.