CFR takes a moment to remind you that the SEC makes money--a shitload of it, actually, more than any other conference in the land. Then he says this:
Basically, the SEC is a cash cow. Either its just greedy or they're running from teams they should look forward to dominating.
Greedy? Cowardly? Let's just say profitable to an extent that largely prohibits them from wanting to do anything taking away from the sum total of the overflowing kitty, as most organizations would be. Look at this through the cold eye of the green eyeshade, not that of the romantic fan: cowardice, bravery, and any other intangible you want to attach to it has nada to do with it when you look at the piles of cash. Not losing a home game every year does.
Take UAA--the University Athletic Association--the organization largely responsible for funding Florida football. UAA operates entirely outside the organizational parameters of the University, setting budgets without oversight and making contracts with employees that are not disclosed publicly. (Remember when people would cite Spurrier's salary in the '90s? They would always say things like "around," mostly because the exact number was a mystery to all but the UAA people.)
UAA along with Gator Boosters calls the shots. In an eleven-game schedule, making a home and away one of their six precious home games, the ones that flood the local economy, sell an entire stadium of tickets, and move biblical amounts of booze from store shelves and bar bottles into stomachs until they complete their magical cycle and end up on the pavement, where they're cleaned up by city and university employees gleefully working into lucrative overtime. Telling an organization they have to cut an operation's budget by 17% with little potential gain isn't going to happen, especially when you take into account the collective pressure exerted by local interests combined with the collective pressure of regional interests like the members of the SEC.
Note: they're not saying they would go broke. They're just saying there would be less money, which could mean cuts for the year, reduction in new mods to the stadium, increases in ticket prices, potential personnel cuts, more rubbery chicken than usual at formals, and general discomfort. And for what? Prestige? The average AD's response would be the same as Ray Liotta's in Good Fellas when he's explaining the Mafia's message to debtors: fuck you, pay me. Above all else these people want what any executive wants: a healthy bottom line. Any transaction will come down to that. Fuck you, pay me. (Thus the cupcakes in the empty slots who'll play for the pay without a home and home agreement. We left this out this a.m. when we were writing pre-coffee. The 12th game alleviates this somewhat now--note the addition of the Miami game again on the schedule in coming years.--ed., now with caffeine coursing through system.)
Woulda made great ADs, we think. Now let's go eat...
An aspiring economics grad student would make serious hay charting the profitability of a national championship. The sad truth, we're guessing, is that the idea of being champion, while romantic, means little to the dudes in the luxury suites and long-term profitability. In fact, in terms of raw profitability, wins and losses can be largely irrelevant sometimes--especially if your school's making money off of basketball, a much smaller scale sport with a bigger payoff by percentage, as Dave Sez illustrates here.
If a team could finish in the top ten and make enough noise during the year to keep the seats filled, get some buzz in the media, and sell plenty of t-shirts, that'll be enough for them. It's the fan hungry for victory who presses for a team to openly root against their team's best interests by scheduling home and aways. And until we're writing hefty checks to UAA, that's probably what our wishes for more adventurous scheduling will be: wishes.