Jan 6 2014, 12:06pm CST | by Forbes
Tonight’s BCS Championship Game will be the last of its kind, with college football moving to a playoff system next year. That alone would make the showdown memorable, but fans may also be treated to one of the best championship games in recent memory.
The Auburn Tigers have been nothing short of explosive this season, and they are coming off a string of three incredible conference victories over Georgia, Alabama and Missouri. Should the Tigers win tonight, claiming their second BCS title in four years, the SEC will have won eight straight national championships.
Florida State poses the biggest threat yet to the SEC’s reign of dominance. Freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has thrown for 3,820 yards and 38 touchdowns en route to a Heisman trophy, and his offense has averaged a staggering 53 points per game. The Seminoles defense has meanwhile allowed more than two touchdowns in a game just twice this season.
And while the two teams are clearly dominant on the field, they are both financial juggernauts off of it.
Auburn, like most top SEC teams, has long held a place on our annual list of college football’s most valuable teams. In 2007, the Tigers ranked eighth with a value of $73 million and profit of $34 million. Five years later the team still ranked eighth, but with team value up 16% to $85 million and a profit of $44 million.
In 2013, our most recent ranking, Auburn was down a bit to a value of $77 million, good for No. 11 on the list. The fall was mostly tied to last year’s horrific 3-9 season, a pitiful showing for the team that spent a massive $36 million, second-most in college football. The on-field disaster will also cost Auburn an extra $11 million just to fire head coach Gene Chizik and his staff.
Few teams spend like Auburn. In fact, the Tigers are second behind only Alabama when it comes to football expenses. That’s a big reason why we ranked Auburn among college football’s worst teams for the money. Over the last three seasons the Tigers have spent an average $5 million per victory. That willingness to spend highlights just how lucrative Auburn’s football team can be (the Tigers still earned $39 million last season) and, given this year’s title game trip, the financial outlay has clearly begun to pay off.
Florida State didn’t make our valuations list this year, but the Seminoles – along with Iowa, Michigan State and Clemson – were one of the closest misses, worth a bit over $50 million. A win tonight would do wonders for FSU’s hopes of bridging the gap. As I detailed in November, the combination of a BCS championship and a Heisman winner could seriously boost team revenue – the last six teams to achieve the feat saw revenue increase by an average 17%.
And just because FSU doesn’t crack the top 20 doesn’t mean it’s not raking in some serious cash. Last year Florida State reported a football profit of $20 million, which covered a large share of expenses for the school’s other sports teams while also helping the athletic department contribute $2.6 million back to academic programming on top of athletic scholarships. FSU and Auburn are both big supporters of academics, and the two teams combine to spend over $5 million per year just on football scholarships.
Beyond the financial power at home, Florida State and Auburn are also conduits of wealth for their local communities and conference rivals.
Visitors to Auburn’s home football games inject some $50 million of direct spending into the local economy over the course of a single season, which is among the biggest economic impacts in college football. Florida State may not come close to comparing, but even the not-so-compelling Seminoles home games generate between $1.5 million and $3 million in visitor spending per game. The year’s biggest rivalry game against Miami, which had college football’s 11th-most expensive ticket this season, can more than double that economic impact.
And while Florida State and Auburn’s conference rivals are often seen as hated villains, they too will grow richer on tonight’s showdown. The ACC and SEC will each receive some $24 million for FSU and Auburn’s automatic qualifications to BCS bowl play. The two conferences may have already been guaranteed those payouts, but the success of Florida State and Auburn was key to each conference also sending an at-large team to a BCS bowl, worth another $6.3 million per conference. All told, each ACC and SEC conference member will enjoy a $2 million payout thanks in large part to the success of tonight’s two competitors.
Source: Forbes Business
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