College football might have been invented by the Ivies, but it was perfected in the Great Lakes, with Notre Dame developing enough of a following to be able to call the National Collegiate Athletic Association a conspiracy in restraint of trade, and going its own way with television contracts; and with Sid Luckman and Amos Alonzo Stagg making the University of Chicago so dominant that beating them inspired one Big Ten fight song (the oh-so-trite "Hail to the Victors") and provided an objective in another ("Run the ball around Chicago", which later became "Run the ball 'round Minnesota", and subsequently morphed into the Wisconsin game plan, "Run the ball on down the field"); that is until Robert Maynard Hutchins decided that building bombs below the grandstands was a better use of resources than throwing bombs in view of the grandstand.

The quintessence of college football is the Big Ten, with each program holding a rich tradition.

Then there's the Big Ten's hardscrabble neighbor, the Mid-American Conference. The big Midwestern industrial states once had the resources, population base, and committment to provide lots of capacity for higher education, and a number of directional teachers colleges became directional universities, with several such universities in Ohio and Michigan particularly becoming the Mid-American.

Unlike the Big Ten, the Mid-American is a major money suck for member institutions.
[I]n the Big 10 only 0.16% of university budgets go to subsidize athletics. Yet, in the poorer Mid American Conference (MAC), subsidies make up over 5% of the schools' overall budgets (see this [College Affordability] study for more on the regressive athletics tax). At some schools this percentage is even larger. For example 10.5% of total core expenditures at SUNY Buffalo go to subsidize athletics. At another MAC school, Eastern Michigan, the figure is 7.9%.
Among the Mid-American universities, students pick up some of the tab, in exchange for prepaid admission to games, a benefit few avail themselves of.
However, even many FBS schools charge high student fees to subsidize sports. Here are a few examples:
Ohio University $765
University of Virginia $657
Bowling Green State University $650
SUNY Buffalo $474
University of Northern Illinois [c.q.] $453
Over the course of their 4+ years in college, students at many schools will have paid thousands of dollars to prop-up unprofitable athletics programs, regardless of their personal interest in sports.
Virginia is not a Mid-American program; Ohio will play Northern Illinois in the Mid-American title game, which will be played December 3 in Detroit. (First prize, a weekend in Detroit. Second prize, a week in Detroit).

And Akron recently borrowed for a new stadium that doesn't do much to draw audiences for a rebuilding football team.
UA Athletic Director Tom Wistrcill said he is disappointed InfoCision Stadium hasn't drawn as expected. But it's easy for fans to become dispirited when the team loses soundly and often.
''You only have 12 [game] days,'' he said. ''You work 365 days a year for 12 days. That's six home games. It's a cruel sport that way.''
Let's see if I understand this: the football coach draws a larger salary for working five hours on 12 days, and the professors, who draw a smaller salary for teaching four classes, are taking the stick.

And, as much as I'm enjoying the current Northern Illinois football season, and, having experienced a BCS run and a campus shooting, I much prefer the BCS run, apparently the football visibility is not the enrollment bonanza some observers would expect. I've learned more about the rationale for the branding initiative: apparently we're losing students to other institutions that don't offer Division I football.


Unknown said...

Are you kidding? "University of Northern Illinois?" Oh, and NIU (that would be Northern Illinois University) is play Miami University in the MAC title game, not Ohio University. And yes, football does increase the number of applications to the University. That is a fact. Check what happened after the 2003 and 2004 football seasons when we went 19-5.

Stephen Karlson said...

Evidently your education didn't include recognizing the significance of a [c.q.] in a block quotation.

Perhaps that's the downside of relying on football to boost applications, it brings in un-intellectual applicants.

And yes, we are currently losing applicants to other universities (my dean mentioned Illinois State specifically) that don't have football.