The Incredible Value of Major College Football Programs

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Can you spot college football fanatics among your friends, acquaintances or work colleagues?

These are some the telltale signs of bona fide fanatics of the game:

  • On game day, they dress in the colors of their school
  • They schedule personal activities on game day around kick-off time
  • Using their smartphones, they watch the game via live stream or receive “Game Cast” updates
  • They go about their daily routine on game day while listening to the game via radio
  • They watch the game at a particular sports bar where school alumni gather to reminisce about “the good old days of campus life” and to cheer for their team
  • Once the college football season comes to an official end, they go into a kind of hibernation until the season starts up again.
  • In the latter part of August, they rush to their local magazine newsstand to buy Sports Illustrated’s must-read college football preview edition
  • They look forward to Monday morning chit-chat at the office water cooler that normally starts with; did you see the game?

Though we normally think of these fanatics when discussing NCAA Division I football, there are also ardent fans of Division II and III football. For purposes of this post, I focus on big time Div. I college football.

Is big time college football essentially “big business?” Your darn right it is!

A few days ago while riding the NYC Subway, I decided to read the Wall Street Journal. Like so many other people, I had taken some time off just to relax over the holidays. Even by my standards, I had watched way too many college football bowl games. As a result, I lost some focus on other things important in life. I figured it was time to get back to the daily grind. Would you believe that I stumbled across an article about the business end of college football?

I missed my stop reading Andrew Beaton’s January 10, 2016 article entitled “How Much is Your Favorite College Football Team Worth.” Beaton reported on this year’s annual report prepared by assistant professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus of the fair market value of college football’s top teams. Ohio State’s football team is valued at $946 million and sits at the top of the list of most valuable programs. Next on the list is the University of Texas. Its team is valued at $885 million. Sitting at third on the list is the University of Michigan at $811 million. According to Forbes Magazine, the vaunted New York Yankees’ in the summer of last year were worth 3.2 billion dollars. Regardless of the method used to compute fair market value, college football’s major programs are worth an incredible amount of money. The major college football programs produce an incredible amount of money for their athletic departments.

There are those who argue that big-time college football has become “too big.” These opponents of the long practiced campus tradition of watching the home team play on fall Saturdays point out the game has eclipsed the need to focus on students’ education. Some of the arguments that the opponents put forth are worthy of consideration. Yet, the college football ritual enhances a student’s overall educational experienced in countless ways that the opponents fail to acknowledge. As a point of interest, a few of the universities in the top 25 final rankings are well-known for their outstanding academics. Northwestern, Stanford, Notre Dame and Duke are highly regarded educational institutions and all were ranked within this year’s final top 25 ranking. Not all football players are big dumb brutes.

I now need to devise a doable plan for tapping into college football’s money stream.


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About Paul Hunter Jones

I was raised in Great Neck, New York. In 1975 I received a B.A. degree from Alfred University. Three years later I graduated from the University of Michigan School of Law and have been practicing law in New York ever since. I am a Republican though I will vote according to the better policy or stance. Politics, law, and finance are my interests. I give special thanks to Cheryl Jones of Lexington South Carolina, my sister, and Eliana Trout Blanco of Santa Marta, Colombia, a one of the kind friend, for their contributions in the writing of this blog.

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