If you were wondering exactly how, and why, so many D1 schools absorb the financial punches to the face that current modern Bowl Game invites end up delivering, then this article at the Big Lead pretty much explains it all.
Yeah. It's ESPN.
Sorry if that sounds like sour grapes from a radio guy outside the gates of the mighty Bristol Starship. But it's true.
Here's the key graphs, in case you don't have the time to read it all. But you should...
Coaches and ADs do benefit from the bowl system, but the true beneficiary is ESPN. The bowl system has expanded because of ESPN. In 2000, there were 25 bowl games with ESPN televising 14 of them. Now, there are 35 bowl games. Including ABC in the equation, ESPN televises 33 of them. An ESPN subsidiary owns an operates seven of the games itself.
College football draws an audience. Even the worst of the worst bowl games in a down year do well on cable. Troy-Ohio and Florida International-Toledo still got 1.3 and 1.4 ratings, about on par with a mundane Sunday Night Baseball telecast. The BCS title game received the highest rating in cable history. ESPN profits substantially from the college football postseason, without much competition and without having to share enough of the revenue to ensure teams turn a profit.
Through its promotion and coverage, ESPN inflates the importance of bowl games. It persistently increases the number of them. It creates an environment where not attending a bowl game is failure and not having your conference cram as many teams as possible into these games jettisons you from the national discussion. Teams feel they need to play in these games, to stay on ESPN’s radar. ESPN promotes the bowl system and may be the reason we don’t advance beyond it.
What happens with the playoff? Ratings increase, possibly pushing into the neighborhood of NFL playoff ratings. This gets the broadcast networks interested and prices ESPN out or, at the very least, forces them to pay far more than they are presently paying scattershot to individual bowl games. Conferences would demand that the schools profit from the system. Broadsides against the BCS in favor of a playoff from ESPN seem to have stopped, since ESPN got the rights back.
College football teams play bowl games for the same reason they do almost everything schedule related. It serves ESPN’s purposes.
Bravo to "tyduffy" who wrote this piece (the site should really do a better job of linking to author's full name and photo, IMHO, but whatever) that covers just about every conceivable angle of the current, idiotic, wasteful system.
Not to mention, the jaw dropping revelation that somehow, Auburn absorbed a 700k LOSS on tickets for the BCS Championship game!