Cha-Ching! Football brings home bacon in the SEC

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2005

There is no doubt that football is a cash cow in the South.

That statement rings true considering the recent report in Sunday's Orlando Sentinel, which released the revenue and expenditures for all of the 117 Division 1-A football schools.

It's not surprising that the Southeastern Conference reaps more benefits from college football than any other conference in the country.

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You certainly don't see 85,000 screaming rabid fans at a Duke game.

But you will regularly see that many or more at Bryant-Denny or Jordan-Hare Stadium even if the Tide or Tigers are playing Louisiana-Monroe.

To put the wealth of college football in perspective in the Southeastern Conference you would only have to look at another powerful football conference like the Big Ten.

Ohio State rolled more than $46 million during its 2003 season. That was the most revenue collected by any college football program in the country. Second on the Big Ten list was Michigan at $38 million and then Penn State at $37 million.

If you compared Penn State's numbers to the schools within the SEC, Penn State would rank tied for sixth in total revenue with Auburn.

Tennessee, which went 10-3 that season, collected $46.7 million. Florida ranked second with $42.7 million and Georgia was third with $42 million.

What seems puzzling is that two of the three teams in the top three didn't even play for the SEC Championship that year. Georgia did and was third on the list.

LSU, which went on to beat Oklahoma for the title in the Sugar Bowl, ranked fifth in the SEC with revenues totaling $38 million.

After further studying the numbers, it's clear that tradition at the Capstone still carries some weight.

Alabama ranked fourth among the SEC schools in 2003 with $39.8 million in revenues. The Crimson Tide was the only team among the top six to finish with a losing record at 4-9.

Although former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer may not have been the most popular among SEC fans, there is no doubt that he brought home the bacon for the conference.

And for those who have made the argument that Notre Dame desperately needs to be an affiliate of a conference, the numbers don't lie.

The Irish are doing just fine without ties to a conference. In 2003, the football program alone raked in $38.5 million. If the Irish were in the SEC, that would put them in a tie for fifth with LSU.

After studying the numbers, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden may have second thoughts abut the Seminoles balking at joining the SEC.

Florida State only brought in $18 million in football revenue and $38 total in athletic revenue in 2003. The Seminoles ranked second to Clemson with $24 million in football revenue.

To give you an idea how lucrative the SEC is, Kentucky reported $19.7 million in football revenue. That number ranked eighth among the 12 SEC schools.

Kentucky, whose football program is just a something to pass the time by until basketball season begins, made more than FSU.

So how do you like the ACC now, Bobby?

If you ever had any doubt that football is king in the Southeastern Conference, just look at the dollar signs.

Football rules the roost.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. You can e-mail him at or call 383-9302 ext. 122.