THERE'S SO much wrong with college football's bowl system I can't begin to outline it in a newspaper section of this size. I've seen the corruption up close. I've listened to the hubris of those raking in cash from the setup. I've written much about it.
It's still mind-numbing to me that university presidents keep passing up possible first-round playoff revenue for their schools and hometowns by handing it over to bowl cities. (Do these bowl reps have pictures of the presidents?)
If you wish to read the particulars about the current bowl setup/scam, I suggest you check out the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series." It outlines the corruption, politics and wasted money by exhibiting tax filings, contracts and congressional testimony.
Today, though, I'll point to a bottom line argument against the setup as it relates to WVU:
That was the profit for the WVU athletic program, which sent its football team to play in Orlando's Champs Sports Bowl. Yippee ki yay, eh? The Mountaineers not only laid an egg on the field, losing 23-7 to North Carolina State, but off the field as well.
Here's the kicker: Considering the current bowl setup, West Virginia officials did well. They were thrilled.
"The interesting thing," said WVU deputy athletic director Mike Parsons, "is our ticket sales didn't meet what we've had in the past, but we still turned a profit."
It's a point of pride, as it should be. According to the aforementioned book, "nearly 60 percent of schools spend more money to participate in bowls than the games offer in payouts."
Consider the situation. WVU's athletic department funded this expensive football team. It took that team to another city to make money for that city and ESPN; it entertained the nation; and it walked away with $144,750. There are incentive bonuses in coach Dana Holgorsen's new contract that pay more.
You might remember that last September, WVU and BYU agreed to play a 2016 football game at Washington's FedEx Field. Each school will be paid $2.25 million.
Yet WVU went to Orlando and played for a net of $144,750. It's the definition of ludicrous.
Conferences, of course, make these pacts with bowls. In the case of the Big East, payouts are then assigned to each bowl. According to Parsons, WVU's revenue from the Champs bowl was $1,480,000. That includes a "mileage allotment" of $180,000.
The expenses were $1,335,250. That includes transportation, meals, lodging, etc., for the team, band, staff and cheerleaders. Parsons said there were miscellaneous expenses like team awards and equipment.
But there was also the expense of unsold or, as Parsons said is more correctly, "absorbed" tickets.
In case you're unaware, bowl participants are not only responsible for providing the entertainment, but also for selling tickets to the games.
The bowl cartel, in this instance, persuaded the Big East and Atlantic Coast conferences to agree that their representatives would be "responsible for" 12,500 tickets each. Parsons said his school sold but 4,700 tickets. It had to buy around 500 tickets for the band. (You read correctly. Not only do the schools' bands provide halftime entertainment, they have to pay to do so.) Schools are allowed to, and expected to, provide tickets for players' families. Parsons said that accounted for over 800 tickets to the Champs bowl. (Odd to me for 85 scholarship players, but ... ) He said 200-400 tickets are for the department's staff.