Goliath - 70, David - 13
April 13, 2020

The coronavirus could crush college football cupcakes while saving the big-time programs millions

Citadel v Alabama

Kevin C. Cox

OK, so let's clarify. If your college football program schedules a bunch of cupcakes, the coronavirus could end up saving it millions … while also costing it millions. Nobody wins if the COVID-19 pandemic truncates or outright cancels the 2020 college football season, least of all university athletic departments. But when it comes to so-called "guarantee games"—games where big schools pay out-of-conference cream puffs to come and get their souls ripped out of their chests (and other less desirable orifices) on beautiful autumn afternoons—your beloved Power Five behemoth could make a big chunk of its change back. According to a new report from Front Office Sports, it's simple: Don't play the games, don't pay the bill. For the delicate french pastries of the FCS who were relying on their multi-million-dollar blowout payouts to survive, however, simplicity has nothing to do with it.

If that sounds about as fair as Alabama scheduling The Citadel each and every year until the sun burns out, that's because it is. Speaking of Alabama, they were second on the guarantee games list in 2019, coming in just behind top-spending arch-rivals Auburn. Tell us again about SEC superiority, why don't ya?

Auburn: $4,287,500

Alabama: $4,075,000

Ohio State: $3,575,000

Wisconsin / Michigan: $3,100,000

LSU: $3,025,000

The rest of the top 10 is rounded out by Texas, Texas A&M, Georgia and Oregon. If it were last season that had been cancelled, those teams would have saved well over $2 million dollars each. As the report points, however, a Sun Belt team like Arkansas State that has grossed more than $5.1 million from games against Nebraska, Alabama and Georgia over the course of the past three seasons (and is scheduled to make another $5.3 million in the next three, starting in 2020 with Michigan) could be in serious trouble. The $1.8 million the Red Wolves would be owed for the Michigan tilt accounts for roughly 5 percent of the university's TOTAL yearly athletic revenue. And that's just one game. David loses. Goliath wins. If that doesn't sound like college football to you, you haven't been paying attention.

Of course, this all assumes that by the time September rolls around, America is not yet in a position to host college football games. Hopefully we are. Hopefully the tiny Techs and no-name States of the US of A can get their big days, lick their wounds and come back ready for more. If not, college football could look a lot different come 2021.