The real playoff roadblock

Published 6:18 pm Monday, January 3, 2011

Let me preface this column by saying that I have not necessarily always been a proponent of a College Football Playoff System and, yes, I know I’m in the minority here.

I’ve always felt that we have a three-month week to week playoff during the regular season and a good portion of the time things fall into place for the top two teams to play for the title.

Plus, I love the College Football Bowl season, matter of fact I refer to it as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” so I definitely do not want to see this get ruined.

But in an effort to try to get a little better perspective on why a playoff system is the right thing for College Football, I decided to dig a little deeper into the world’s greatest sport.

I’ve listened to every scenario under the sun on how a playoff system could work and the majority of those ideas have come from the some of the people I admire the most in College Football.

CBS’s Tim Brando, the self proclaimed “Mr. College FB,” Tony Barnhart of CBS /Atlanta Journal Constitution,  ESPN’s Rece Davis, Mark May, Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard, plus many, many more, all have opinions on what they feel is necessary for the sport they dearly love.

However, the biggest eye opener for me has come from a recently purchased book that is penned by Dan Wetzel appropriately named “Death to the BCS.”

We’ve all heard that the College Presidents don’t want a playoff system and every conceivable reason why.  Missing too much class, not wanting to ruin the current Bowl System and of course the biggest reason, MONEY!!!!!!!

Mr. Wetzel is able to defeat all those reasons in the first five chapters of his book, especially the money situation that revolves around the Bowls. He easily points out that a lot of schools lose money on a bowl game, for example the official summary of Virginia Tech’s 2009 Orange Bowl expenses reveals that the school’s total bill was a whopping $3,818,904.00!!!!

Look at Florida’s appearance in the 2009 BCS title game, it was advertised that the game had a payout of $17.5 million. But, after all the SEC Bowl Games payout was shared with the other 12 teams in the SEC, the total payout left for the Gators was $2,467,000.00.

Sounds like a good payoff right, however we have to take out Florida’s expenses (coaches bonuses $960,000, travel $681,000, tickets $320,000, band and cheerleaders $190,000 and other expenses all that added up to $2.24 million). So for winning the BCS Championship game, Florida made only $47,000 –  a far cry from the advertised payout.

I never realized that the only people that don’t have to purchase a ticket for any Bowl Game from universities are the players and coaches. If a school carries their band they must purchase a ticket for every band member, in the 2009 Outback Bowl, Iowa was charged $65.00 per game ticket for each of the 346 members of the band’s traveling party, you do the math.

So where does all the money go? According to Wetzel , it goes to the “Not for Profit” declared Bowls. They simply enjoy 501©(3) Not for Profit status from the IRS, which allows them to avoid paying federal, state and local taxes. Basically it’s a sweetheart of a deal.

Most of you are probably thinking that charities are the biggest beneficiaries from the Bowls and that is where the majority of the money goes, think again. The Sugar Bowl organization brought in $34.1 million in revenue in 2007, they gave not a penny to the Hurricane Katrina Fund, New Orleans After-School program or Habitat for Humanity.

The Sugar Bowl after expenses ended with an $11.6 million dollar profit for the year and $37 million in assets. Part of the Bowl’s expenses went to Executive Director Paul Hoolhan who received a compensation/salary of $607, 500.00!

I could go on and on, but I’m convinced that the sole reason we don’t have a playoff system is because nobody wants to tinker with the current Bowl System even though most schools lose money by participating in them. Matter of fact, Michigan had back-to-back losing seasons, didn’t go to a Bowl Game in either season and made big money.

So why go if you’re losing money? Schools make so much money on home games during the regular season, they can afford to take the loss for the exposure.  Plus, the compensation for coaches, athletic directors and other officials who make the decision to participate in a Bowl Game is too much to turn away.

Does this persuade me to lean more towards the playoff system? Absolutely, even though a perfect playoff system will still leave a deserving team out regardless how many teams are involved, so that argument will still be there.

Every year all I hear that there are too many Bowls, however here is what you need to understand. The Bowls are for the players and coaches, oops … almost forgot and the Executive Directors.

Don’t know yet what teams will be invited to the Talkin Sports Bowl in 2011 played in lovely Potecasi, NC, but I know who’ll be the Executive Director. See you at my Bowl Game.

Thoughts or comments are welcomed at gattis@embarqmail, on Twitter at Gatmo or on my Facebook Talkin Sports page.