Despite the serious bowl problem of players skipping out on their team one game early, the college football bowl season is the most important stretch of games for so many colleges and universities. Not only is this a chance for smaller schools to receive national attention, but the payday that comes with winning a college bowl game nearly pays for the whole party.
Sure, some of these ridiculous bowl games are basically handing out participation trophies mixed in with an “atta boy!” While attendance and motivation for each games varies greatly depending on where the game takes place and who is playing, the most important figure to take away, as you’d expect, is the stone-cold cash prize at the end.
It’s important to know that every school doesn’t collect their winnings and scurry away to their home campus, though. Bowl game payouts are paid to each participating college football conference, which is then divided up to every school in that conference.
Yes, even though the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, who have 11 combined wins in the last four years, they STILL get a piece of the pie for ever Big Ten Conference team wins their postseason game or makes the College Football Playoff.
Since the inception of the CFP, the money gets distributed a little bit differently than the BCS. Here is the revenue distribution for the six major bowl games: the Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl.
— Each conference receives $300,000 for each school that meets the NCAA’s academic performance review (APR) for participation in a postseason bowl; FBS Independents like Notre Dame also receive the same amount.
— Each of the 10 conferences receive a base payout, again pending that academic performance review. For the Power 5 conferences with contracts to send its champion to the Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowl, each conference receives around $54 million. For the other Group of Five conferences that do not have automatic bids for its champion, they divide a total of around $81.32 million amongst themselves. Notre Dame automatically gets $2.65 million if it meets that APR review; all other independents receive less than $1 million.
— Each conference gets $6 million for every football team it sends to a playoff semifinal game. They also get an additional $4 million for participation in one of the other non-playoff New Year’s Six bowl games. There is no additional revenue added for making the national championship game.
— Each conference gets an additional $2.25 million to cover travel expenses for each game.
In summary: there is A LOT of money on the line for a football game.
In addition to the College Football Playoff revenue pool, of course, each bowl game pays out to the winner. Here are the winners of the other non-playoff bowl games from the 2018-19 season, and how much they collected for their respective conference.
American Athletic Conference (AAC)
Cincinnati Bearcats, Military Bowl: $2.07 million
Tulane Green Wave, Cure Bowl: $751,115
Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
Duke Blue Devils, Independence Bowl: $1.25 million
Syracuse Orange, Camping World Bowl: $5.80 million
Virginia Cavaliers, Belk Bowl: $4.51 million
Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Birmingham Bowl: $1.65 million
Big Ten Conference
Iowa Hawkeyes, Outback Bowl: $6.35 million
Minnesota Golden Gophers, Quick Lane Bowl: $750,000
Northwestern Wildcats, Holiday Bowl: $6.33 million
Wisconsin Badgers, Pinstripe Bowl: $4.30 million
Big 12 Conference
Baylor Bears, Texas Bowl: $6.30 million
Oklahoma State Cowboys, Liberty Bowl: $4.29 million
TCU Horned Frogs, Cheez-It Bowl: $1.04 million
Florida International Golden Panthers, Bahamas Bowl: $225,000
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Hawaii Bowl: $1.00 million
Marshall Thundering Herd, Gasparilla Bowl: $1.13 million
UAB Blazers, Boca Raton Bowl: $1.00 million
Army Golden Knights, Armed Forces Bowl: $900,000
BYU Cougars, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: $950,000
Mid-American Conference (MAC)
Ohio Bobcats, Frisco Bowl: $750,000
Mountain West Conference (MWC)
Fresno State Bulldogs, Las Vegas Bowl: $2.76 million
Nevada Wolfpack, Arizona Bowl: $412,920
Utah State Aggies, New Mexico Bowl: $1.05 million
Oregon Ducks, Redbox Bowl: $3.60 million
Stanford Cardinal, Sun Bowl: $3.45 million
Washington State Cougars, Alamo Bowl: $7.975 million
Southeastern Conference (SEC)
Auburn Tigers, Music City Bowl: $5.60 million
Kentucky Wildcats, Citrus Bowl: $8.55 million
Texas A&M Aggies, Gator Bowl: $3.17 million
Sun Belt Conference
Appalachian State Mountaineers, New Orleans Bowl: $925,000
Georgia Southern Eagles, Camellia Bowl: $250,000
Troy Trojans, Dollar General Bowl: $1.50 million
Since college football moved from the BCS system to the Playoff era, money around the game has skyrocketed. While some believe the FBS should adopt the Football Championship Subdivision’s (FCS) model of a 24-team tournament, it’s not going to change when the current system is working so well for everyone involved.
After the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers meet in Santa Clara to decide the 2019 National Champion, the money will be divided, the checks will be cashed, and another year of college football will be in the books with a few fat wallets to make it all worth while.