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.
Struggling mightily in the passing game, Ohio State may have caught a bit of a break as the Buckeyes look to rebound from just their fifth in the four-plus years under Urban Meyer.
On Northwestern’s official injury report, cornerback Trae Williams is listed as out for the Wildcats’ Week 9 matchup with the Buckeyes in Columbus. Williams is dealing with an injury that the school has not specified.
The redshirt freshman also missed the Week 8 win over Indiana because of the injury.
Prior to that, Williams had started the previous four games, the first four starts of his collegiate career. This season, Williams has been credited with 20 tackles and has one of the Wildcats’ seven interceptions.
With Williams sidelined, Alonzo Mayo will get the start opposite Montre Hartage. The redshirt freshman made his first career start in place of Williams last weekend.
A pair of FBS schools from the state of Kentucky will be getting back together on the gridiron after a sabbatical of nearly two decades.
Louisville and Western Kentucky announced Thursday that they have reached an agreement on a three-game series that will actually be played in the not-too-distant future. Two of the games will be played at the U of L’s Papa John’s Stadium in 2018 and 2020.
The third will be played at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium in 2019.
“It’s great for both schools that we were able to resume this series against an in-state school of Western Kentucky’s caliber,” U of L athletic director Tom Jurich said in a statement. “Because of the proximity of both schools, I think it’s a tremendous win for the state of Kentucky and each fan base. I’m thrilled we were able to lock down a three-game series versus WKU.”
“We are excited to begin a football series with the University of Louisville,” Jurich’s WKU counterpart, Todd Stewart, said in his statement. “These three games will be exciting for both fan bases and good for college football in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We continually try to develop strong non-conference schedules each year while also focusing on regional match ups that enable our fans to attend games outside of Bowling Green. A series with Louisville checks all of those boxes, and we appreciate Louisville’s administration and football program for their efforts and cooperation.”
The two teams have met 31 times previously, with the first coming in 1922 and the most recent in 1998. The Cardinals hold a 19-12 advantage in the series.
The Hilltoppers are currently coached by former Cardinals quarterback Jeff Brohm.
It’s not quite over, but No. 25 Virginia Tech will be firmly entrenched in the driver’s seat of the ACC Coastal heading into the final month of the regular season.
Thanks in large part to 406 yards passing from Jerod Evans, Tech was able to survive off a fourth-quarter rally by Pittsburgh and secure a 39-36 road win Thursday night. Evans’ performance was easily the best of his career, and just the second time he’s gone for 300-plus yards. The first (307) for the first-year starter came just two weeks ago in a loss to Syracuse.
Evans was also part of an offense that rolled up a season-high 556 yards on the night.
With the win, Tech improves to 4-1 in conference play, tied with North Carolina for the Coastal lead. However, by virtue of the Hokies’ Oct. 8 win over the Tar Heels, they control their own destiny in the division. Tech has three league games remaining — at Duke (0-3) and home games against Georgia Tech (1-3) and Virginia (1-2) — and, if they win all three, they will represent the division in the ACC championship game. UNC would need to win out plus see Tech lose at least one game in order to win the division.
Pitt fell to 3-2, with those two losses coming to VT and UNC, meaning they have essentially eliminated themselves from Coastal contention. In a losing effort, Pitt running back James Conner contributed 141 yards and three scores on the ground on just 19 carries.
A Pennsylvania jury has awarded former Penn State assistant Mike McQueary a whopping $7.3 million on Thursday evening in a case that found the school defamed him for his role in the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the jury (which included two PSU employees) took just under four hours to render the verdict. While the lawsuit is not completely over because a judge has to rule on McQueary’s whistleblower claim, the verdict is nevertheless a blow to the Nittany Lions after the school was found guilty of defamation and misrepresentation in the case.
McQueary, a former quarterback in State College and an assistant under Joe Paterno, was at the center of the Sandusky scandal back in 2011. He allegedly witnessed Sandusky’s sexual assault of a boy in team facilities back in 2001 and reported what he saw to Paterno and others, but nothing was done about the crime. The revelations a key part in a case against Sandusky and eventually led to the ouster of Paterno and McQueary’s subsequent loss of his own job at the school.
The timing of the news is probably not what Penn State fans wanted to hear about this week after they celebrated the program’s biggest win since the scandal last Saturday in a come from behind victory over then-No. 2 Ohio State.