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Bowl appearances not worth much

Published November 20, 2012 8:40 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Gave Utah athletic director Chris Hill a ring yesterday to gauge his interest in sending his football team to a bowl game if the Utes finish 5-7 and there is an opportunity for them to fill a slot after all bowl teams are taken. He sounded a lot like coach Kyle Whittingham, saying he wasn't even going to consider the possibility until the Utes are 5-7. However, I think I know his level of interest. It probably is somewhere between slim to none. Hill has never been a fan of just sending teams to bowl games for the sake of going bowling because it's often a losing proposition unless the team is in a major bowl game. For instance, the Utes made only about $1.4 million for appearing in the 2009 Sugar Bowl, which had a payout of $17.5 million, after all expenses were paid and the money was split with other MWC teams. In other past bowls the Utes were lucky to just break even as travel expenses and ticket sales ate into the payouts. Life in the Pac-12 is better, since bowl teams receive expense budgets from the league to cover travel costs, lodging and so forth. In addition, teams can receiver a subsidy to cover half of the cots of unsold bowl ticket commitments. Nevertheless, the Utes still wouldn't stand to make much since the two bowls at risk of not filling slots, the Military Bowl and Independence Bowl have payouts of just $1 million and $1.15 million, respectively. There is one big twist that could make things interesting for teams that are put in an pool based on their Academic Progress Report to be considered for open bowl slots if they are needed. The NCAA decided this year that teams that have to fill vacant slots other than through their original contracts are allowed to negotiate payouts up or down. Therefore, if a team such as Utah is the only available team left using the APR pool and a bowl has an open slot, the Utes could sit back and say they weren't interested in a bowl until the money was right for them. "It is the free market in action," said Wright Waters, the executive director of the Football Bowl Association. "It's considered a totally new, one-year contract so you are starting new with the negotiations." A scenario such as that one might make Hill a little more interested if things fall into ine and the Utes have a chance to go bowling as a 5-7 team. - Lya Wodraska