College football is very similar to the classic high school popularity caste system. Teams like Alabama, Oregon, USC and OSU are the popular kids. They’re the most respected, powerful, and richest. They get the coolest jerseys, best coaching staff, best recruits in the nation and stadiums filled to the brim.
College football seems to only promote the most affluent teams by using a capitalist league where it seems, "The rich get richer and the poor get poorer", Andrew Jackson 1832. Before the whistle blows, teams play on a lopsided stage. For example, the defending national champions, Ohio State University has an 11 week ‘preseason’ before actually being challenged by a rigorous team. How can small teams that play teams like Ohio State improve and compete with these decorated programs? The answer is that big schools play on another tier than the rest. The top 30 teams in the league are on a pedestal towering over the rest. One might think that small teams can’t improve and should be put in another league and give the viewers a break. Why not have mediocre teams play each other? Have all the prestigious college football teams in one conference. Every Saturday would be a round robin with matchups we normally would only see during bowl week.
This utopia conference that institutes parody I am describing is called “the NFL.” But if there’s still confusion why the NCAA doesn’t adopt this plan, continue reading. Surprisingly the answer has nothing to do with the sport of football. Doug J. Chung is the Assistant Professor of marketing at Harvard Business School. He has been doing research on how the success of college football and basketball teams affects the admission at the school. Sean Silverthorne of Forbes writes on the research done by Doug J. Chung, “Schools build sports programs because it can be financially beneficial to do so—intercollegiate sporting events generated an estimated $2 billion in revenue and $1 billion in profit in 2010. Winning programs prosper in diverse ways including ticket and product sales, alumni donations, and TV contracts.” This kills two birds with one stone! Schools use popular athletic programs to attract admissions while attaining a large sum of revenue. A university's football or basketball team can be the best form of advertisement.
Chang found that after the Northwestern University football team won the Big Ten Championship, its applications for admission increased 21%. Many colleges that runs on the field Saturday, raises the viewer’s general awareness of the school, just by tossing some leather around! This means small schools are fortunate to have some big schools on their schedule because of the attention and fan base the larger schools bring. Once the economic curtain is pulled back, it appears that large and small or mediocre teams benefit on both sides. Sorry to ruin game day, but keep in mind the funding machine the NCAA dances in front of us every Saturday.