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Dan Wetzel Would Like You to Follow the Bowl Money

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I'm actually pretty bored by articles about how college football needs a playoff. Not because I don't think it does. I've been arguing for playoffs on the internet for just shy of ten years, now – the earliest bit of my writing I can find with Google was written November 29th, 2000 – and the only thing that changes is my particular playoff implementation. It's just that I've been doing this for awhile now, and I've heard all the arguments. BCS advocates won't change their minds until their particular team is burned by the bowls, so why torture myself by reading the same thing over and over?

Which is what makes the article in Sports Illustrated this week interesting. Dan Wetzel, author of Death to the BCS, and Austin Murphy actually make an argument I haven't heard before. Amid the standard calls for fairness and descriptions of how TCU and Boise State are getting shafted, he mentions the Congressional testimony of Jim Delaney, who says "an NFL-style football playoff would generate three or four times" more than the BCS. Wetzel then makes the case that the bowls actually cost cash-strapped athletic departments money, only to line the pockets of coaches, athletic directors, and obscenely paid bowl officials. There's a ton of good stuff in here, from the fact that Playoff PAC has asked the IRS to review the non-profit status of bowls – and the respective figures the big ones pull in that pretty much belie any non-profit claim – to numerous of anecdotes of schools who have lost money on bowl games, including Ohio State in last year;s Rose Bowl. When you can't turn a profit playing in the Rose Bowl, something is seriously wrong.

The money quote, however, comes from Craig Thompson, commissioner of the Mountain West:

"A few years ago our ADs came to me and said, ‘You've got to start some bowls.'  I said, ‘You'll lose money.' They [each] said, ‘I don't care.' "

Of course, one page prior to that in the magazine is a half-a-page inset describing in incredible detail an Oregon-Auburn BCS championship bowl, a game that is probably only has a 50% chance of occurring at this point. Magazines rake in some serious dough from the bowls as well.