There was something I ran across earlier this weekend that I wanted to talk about. There’s been concern with several conferences upcoming 9 game conference schedules, that some teams will lose flexibility in scheduling OOC opponents. I believe most if not all major conferences will end up with this.
In particular in the ACC schools like Georgia Tech, Clemson and Florida State play in-state SEC rivals Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida every year. Stanford and USC have their rivalry with Notre Dame.
That is one those teams OOC games each year, and with a 9 game conference schedule it makes it very difficult to schedule additional quality opponents. I tried to come up with scenarios where teams like these could play other quality OOC teams in a home and home series. It just wasn’t happening. Most teams wanted to have a 7 game home schedule without taking a financial hit. Then I read this article from ESPN, that discusses the financial implications for the Chick Fil A preseason football games.
This line struck me…
“Based on their ticket sales, Auburn’s contract calls for a payment of $2.3 million, slightly more money than it made when it last hosted Clemson in Auburn.”
When Auburn hosted Clemson in 2010 there were over 87,000 fans in attendance. Now I was at the game Saturday evening with Clemson and Auburn, and it was sellout of better than 75,000 fans in Atlanta. The game was in prime time national TV on ESPN. The exposure and the buildup for both teams to the game made it one of the most highly anticipated of college football’s first weekend, and now you’re telling me the schools participating can make as much money if not more as hosting the same game?
You know what this tells me? You can have your cake and eat it too with the neutral site college games. Already this past weekend Atlanta, GA hosted Tennessee vs NC State, and Clemson vs Auburn. Dallas, Tx had Alabama vs Michigan. It’s the best of both worlds. You can play a marquee opponent, and not lose money. Yes 1 home game will be lost and I understand that. I would counter that with the national exposure gained. In addition, you aren’t going to do it every year. You can easily schedule a game like this once every 3 or 4 years. It’s a recruiting tool, and the advance scheduling will allow large portions of your fanbase to attend. That said I don’t expect fewer of these games, I expect more.
I predict other cities will take Atlanta’s lead in trying to bring an economic windfall to their city and schedule these neutral site games. Honestly I’m going to be pretty skeptical of any AD from a historically solid football school that says they can’t schedule quality out of conference games once every 3 or 4 years even with a 9 game conference schedule.