‘Tis the season of giving…unsold tickets back to bowls

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In the spirit of the season, college football teams are giving back.

Or, more accurately, a few schools haven’t come close to selling out their bowl ticket allotment, and are forced to eat the costs of thousands of tickets.

The numbers on Monday weren’t pretty: UCF returned 10,000 tickets while Baylor returned 5,000 tickets to the Fiesta Bowl, and Ohio State has only sold 7,000 of its 17,500-ticket allotment for the Orange Bowl. Those are just the numbers reported Monday; it’s probably fair to speculate plenty of other schools aren’t going to sell out their bowl ticket allotments.

While BCS bowls offer large payouts, schools have to pay up front for 17,500 tickets and then sell them to fans. The Toledo Blade’s David Briggs has an excellent look at just how bad the financial situation can get — for example, UConn lost $1.8 million on unsold tickets for the 2011 Fiesta Bowl.

Middle and lower-tier bowls often hurt participating teams the most. To say the crowd was sparse at Monday’s Beef O’Brady’s Bowl between East Carolina and Ohio at Tropicana Field would be a massive understament.

And while Bowling Green has seen brisk ticket sales for the Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit this year, that’s not an annual luxury for it and similar schools:

At the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Bowling Green received 4,000 tickets. It sold 77 — 76 for $40 and one for $15. The athletic department and university lost a combined $154,000 after adding up expenses for the team, band, and athletic department staffers.

Toledo, meanwhile, sold about 300 tickets for last December’s Potato Bowl. It received $225,000 for the 2011 Military Bowl in Washington and $475,000 last year, but spent $518,000 and $699,000, respectively, according to school records.

Yikes. These games are a fine reward for a team’s seniors, and the added bowl practices do serve a significant purpose. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said: “You’re running a business and an organization for 365 days a year. (Not going to a bowl) would be like you’re closing down the business for a month. And that’s not good for business.”

But sometimes, these bowl games aren’t good for business, either.

UCF to be without starting LT for Peach Bowl matchup with Auburn

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UCF will have its head coach for one of the biggest games in the football program’s history, but they’ll be without their quarterback’s blindside protector.

According to Shannon Green of the Orlando Sentinel, Aaron Evans will not play in No. 12 UCF’s Peach Bowl matchup with No. 7 Auburn New Year’s Day.  The specific nature of the injury that will sideline the offensive lineman wasn’t detailed.

The past three seasons, Evans started 36 of 37 games at left tackle.  12 of those starts came during the Knights run to a perfect regular season and American Athletic Conference championship that helped propel them to a New Year’s Six bowl.

With Evans out, Jake Brown will likely get the start against the Tigers.  Brown started 11 games at left guard for the Knights this season.

Baylor reportedly losing QB Zach Smith to transfer

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Two-thirds of the way through a one-win season, Zach Smith lost his job as the starting quarterback at Baylor.  Nearly three weeks later, it appears the sophomore has decided to ply his future football wares elsewhere.

According to ESPN Radio‘s Central Texas affiliate, Smith will be transferring from the Bears football program.  An official announcement, either from the player or the team or both, is expected to go down at some point in the not-too-distant future.

As a true freshman, Smith started the last four games of the 2016 season because of an injury to starter Seth Russell.  He started six games this past season before true freshman Charlie Brewer started the last four.  Brewer is now the only scholarship quarterback the Bears have on their roster.

Smith will leave Waco having thrown for 2,997 yards and 21 touchdowns.  The highlight of his career was a 463-yard, four-touchdown performance in an eight-point loss to Oklahoma this past September.

Jalen Jelks eschews leaving early for NFL, will return to Oregon

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We haven’t yet reached the first-ever early signing period, and Oregon has already bolstered its 2018 defense.

Jalen Jelks confirmed to The Oregonian that he has decided to push off the NFL and will instead return to Oregon for another season.  The redshirt junior indicated that he needs to work on his game before he takes it to the next level.

“I’m back for sure,” the redshirt junior defensive end told the newspaper. “I talked to my parents and my family and everything and just probably the best decision for me is to make the best out of next season and make a lot more plays than I did this season.

“I missed a lot of plays, and if I can capitalize on that and translate it to next season I could contribute a lot to the draft.”

This season, Jelks led the Ducks in tackles for loss with 15; in sacks with 6.5; and in quarterback hits with four.  The tackles for loss were second in the Pac-12 to Washington State’s Hercules Mata’afa‘s 21.5.

Rashaan Salaam’s 1994 Heisman up for auction, could fetch $300K

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A little over a year after his death, one of the most noteworthy pieces of Rashaan Salaam‘s athletic career finds itself up for sale to the public yet again.

According to the Denver Post, the former Colorado star running back’s 1994 Heisman Trophy will be auctioned off next month and is expected to sell for upwards of $300,000. A portion of whatever the trophy fetches will be donated to CTE research.

Salaam, who took his own life at the age of 42 last December, was diagnosed with CTE symptoms postmortem.

After rushing for more than 2,000 yards, Salaam in 1994 became the first, and thus far only, Buffaloes football player to win the most prestigious trophy in college football.  In 2013, Salaam sold the trophy to a sports memorabilia dealer who subsequently sold it to the unnamed individual who is selling it at auction. “The trophy also includes a letter from Salaam, acknowledging the 2013 sale,” the Post wrote.

Based on what we’ve found, the largest amount a Heisman Trophy has ever brought in was the $395,000 a California businessman paid for Minnesota’s Bruce Smith‘s 1941 award in 2005.