The Big Ten will pay FCS programs nearly $5 million this season
According to a report from Fox Sports Wisconsin, the Big Ten will collectively contribute nearly $5 million to the budgets of FCS schools in the form of guarantee game payouts this September.
The payouts are as follows:
Florida A&M vs. Ohio State (Sept. 21): $900,000
Youngstown State vs. Michigan State (Sept. 14): $650,000
Tennessee Tech vs. Wisconsin (Sept. 7): $500,000
Missouri State vs. Iowa (Sept. 7): $475,000
Maine vs. Northwestern (Sept. 21): $450,000
Indiana State vs. Indiana (Aug. 29): $450,000
Indiana State vs. Purdue (Sept. 7): $400,000
South Dakota State vs. Nebraska (Sept. 21): $395,000
Western Illinois vs. Minnesota (Sept. 14): $375,000
Southern Illinois vs. Illinois (Aug. 31): $350,000
We've explained previously why the Big Ten is shooting itself in the foot by discontinuing its practice of scheduling FCS schools, so let's look at this from the angle of the FCS schools listed above.
Although, this quote is worth noting. "If you want to compete in the championship or want to be in the hunt for a national championship, you have to compete against FBS schools," Wisconsin deputy athletic director Sean Frazier said. This is categorically false. The 2012 national champions played Western Carolina. The 2011 national champions played Georgia Southern. The 2009 and 2010 national champions played Chattanooga. The run of SEC national championships has proven it's not the bottom of your schedule that matters, it's who you play at the top.
Back on subject, what do FCS programs do with the money?
According to Watson Brown, head coach of a Tennessee Tech team in line for a half-million dollar check from Wisconsin, they buy items any program would deem essential and that larger programs assume are birthrights. "Brown has used some of the money from playing Football Bowl Subdivision opponents to purchase headsets for his coaches. He also bought a video editing system for the entire athletic department," writes Jesse Temple.
Second, and most importantly: what are FCS programs going to do if they can no longer play Big Ten opponents? Sure, they can turn to the ACC (12 games scheduled versus FCS foes in 2013, plus two against reclassifying Old Dominion), the SEC (13 FCS games), the Pac-12 (nine games) and the Big 12 (eight). But that's a ride with only a finite amount of tickets. The MAC and Sun Belt can't offer an equivalent paycheck. And many of those programs are looking for their own million-dollar guarantee games, as well.
There is also a certain amount of regional prejudice playing against Midwestern FCS schools. Oregon State is much more likely to bus in Eastern Washington than they are to fly in Northern Iowa.
Then there's the matter of money. Tennessee Tech's $500,000 is a large chunk of its $12 million budget. Indiana State's two Big Ten games will net the Sycamores $850,000 on a budget of nearly $13 million.
And once that money's gone, it's gone.