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Bowl Snubs 2011: 12 College Football Teams That Got Screwed By The BCS
Every year college football’s stupid BCS system screws over at least ten teams when bowl invitations are handed out, and 2011 is no exception. But can you actually quantify exactly how much any given team got screwed?
Well, yes…sort of. You see, all bowl games have a set amount of money they pay to the programs that play in the game. The lowliest of the low—like the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, or the GoDaddy.com Bowl—pay teams less than a million bucks for playing. Meanwhile, the cream of the crop—the BCS bowls—pay teams a whopping $18 million for playing. Thus, you can measure just how screwed your team got at bowl selection time by looking at the difference between the money they’ll actually get versus the money they probably should have gotten based on their ranking.
Today we present you a list of 12 college football teams that got screwed over by the bowl system, using the financial losses a program incurs as a guideline. If you’re a fan of the game, you should check this out, because it’s pretty eye opening.
[Before we get started, a hat tip to the “sports nerds” at teamrankings.com for their number crunching.]
12. Missouri Tigers
On the one hand, I have a real hard time saying an unranked team that went 7-5 got “screwed over” with their bowl invitation. You know what they would have gotten in the olden days? Jack squat. But this is 2011, and there are 35. Did you catch that? THIRTY-FIVE BOWL GAMES. With this kind of system, an unranked 7-5 team can get screwed.
And Mizzou did, even if only slightly. Even with their mediocre record they are a top 30 team, which ought to have gotten them a bowl game worth at least a $2 million payout. Instead they get one (the Independence Bowl) worth only $1.1 million. Don’t bust out your calculators—that’s $900,000 the Tigers are missing out on this year.
A quick comparison: Notre Dame also finished out of the top 25, but was probably 26 or 27. But they get a bowl game worth $2.125 million…because they’re Notre Dame.
11. Penn State Nittany Lions
Despite all the drama over at PSU, they finished the season 9-3 at no. 22 in the BCS rankings. If they handed out bowl invitations so that the games that pay the most go to teams in accordance with the rankings, then Penn State should have been entitled to a spot in the Alamo Bowl, which is worth $2.25 million. Instead, that game will be contended by teams ranked 35 and 12 in the nation—no, really, #12 versus #35!—while Penn State gets the TicketCity Bowl worth $1.2 million. So they miss out on $1.05 million. Though, if any program deserved to take a financial hit this year, it’s probably PSU. In fact, I’m sure their bowl assignment was probably punishment.
10. Texas Longhorns
The Longhorns had an off year, going 7-5, but they managed to finish at #24 in the BCS. Going by rankings along, that ought to have gotten them Champs Sports Bowl with a payout of $2.125 million. But that went to lower-ranked Notre Dame and Florida State, while Texas got the Holiday Bowl for a measly $1 million and a hit of $1.125 million. As with Missouri, you can’t feel too bad for a team that finished 7-5. Still, fair is fair.
9. Houston Cougars
Sure, Houston plays in a weak conference. They still went 12-1 and finished #20, #17, and #19 in the AP, USA Today, and BCS Polls respectively. So it seems that the consensus was that they really earned a decent bowl invitation. Their BCS ranking suggests the Gator Bowl, with it’s payout of $2.5 million. But no, that went to down-and-out Florida and Ohio State. The Cougars instead get to join Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl, losing out on $1.3 million. (And it’s the non-powerhouse programs like Houston that could really use that extra money to remain competitive.)
8. Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
Southern Miss finished 11-2 and handed Houston its only loss. Despite losses to weak teams, they still finished at #24, which was deserving of a bowl game worth $2.25 million (the Alamo Bowl). Instead, they get a bowl that pays only $750,000, which is almost insulting. On top of that, it’s the Hawaii Bowl—which is awesome for the players but bad news for the Southern Miss Athletic Director, since he’ll have to pay a hell of a lot more to get his team there than if they were playing in Texas like they deserve.
7. TCU Horned Frogs
TCU finished at #18, which in a perfect world would have gotten them the Chick-fil-A Bowl worth a cool $3.35 million. Instead they’ll be facing #36 in the Poinsettia Bowl for $750,000. But I’m sure they really didn’t need that extra $2.6 million, right? I mean, an historic program like TCU is just rolling in dough.
6. Oklahoma Sooners
I know, feeling sorry for the Sooners is like feel in sorry for the Steelers. Boo freaking hoo. Still, they finished with a record of 9-3 and ranked #14 in the (admittedly over-generous) BCS poll. So even if they didn’t really deserve a $4.25 million trip to the Capitol One Bowl, they definitely deserved more than a $1.2 million trip to the Insight Bowl. Luckily they’ve been getting that ridiculous BCS Bowl cash for years and years, so a little $3.05 million hit this year won’t set them back too far.
5. Baylor Bears
You’d like to see the #12 team and it’s Heisman Trophy quarterback, Robert Griffin, playing in a big bowl game against a good team, wouldn’t you? Well, tough luck. Baylor gets #35 Washington in the Alamo Bowl. They also miss out on $4.5 million they could have had if they gave out bowl invitations based on rankings.
There are 10 spots available in the 5 BCS bowls. So those should go to the top 10 teams in the BCS rankings, right? Well, you already know that isn’t the case. Because the Rose Bowl insists on preserving their tradition of always having a game between the Pac 12 and Big 10, and because there is a stupid rule that no one conference can have more than two teams go to BCS bowls, every year great teams get shafted and miss out on tens of millions of dollars. This year, 4 of the top 10 BCS teams aren’t going to a BCS bowl game.
First up we have K-State, which finished at #8. They do get to go to the most prestigious non-BCS bowl (the Cotton Bowl), which pays $6.75 million. But the BCS bowls pay $18 million, so they can still argue that they were screwed to the tune of $11.25 million.
That would pay for a few scholarships, wouldn’t it?
3. South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina finished the year ranked #9 in the BCS standings. They can probably tolerate seeing #11 VA Tech playing #13 Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. After all, rankings are never going to be an exact science. But it’s got to drive them absolutely insane to see #15 Clemson play #23 West Virginia in the Orange Bowl while they’ll be earning $4.25 million in the Capitol One Bowl.
The Gamecocks lose $13.75 million (based on their ranking), while West Virginia gets $15.875 million more than they really deserved? It’s madness.
2. Arkansas Razorbacks
The 6th ranked Razorbacks coached by Bobby Petrino will be meeting the K-State Wildcats in the Cotton Bowl. That means they will also be missing out on $6.75 million. However, because they are ranked two spots higher than K-State, they get ranked two spots higher on this list.
This year, the Broncos once again went 11-1 and finished ranked #7. But apparently they have to go undefeated if they even want a shot at a BCS bowl and a top 4 finish. This year, instead of collecting $18 million, they get to play Arizona State (who would rank somewhere around #50 if the rankings went that high) in the Maaco Bowl for—ooh, wow—a million bucks.
$1 million is almost the same as $18 million, right?