SBD/November 19, 2012/Colleges

The Boys Of Fall: Importance Of College Football To Schools Featured On "60 Minutes"

The popularity and importance of college football to schools and universities across the country was examined on CBS’ “60 Minutes” last night. CBS’ Armen Keteyian reported for an increasing number of schools, success on the football field “now equals a higher profile for the entire school.” That has “fueled an arms race in the college game, the likes of which the sport has never seen.” Keteyian said Univ. of Michigan AD Dave Brandon, a former UM football player and Domino’s Pizza CEO, on “game day … never stops moving, arriving five hours early, double-checking on everything from the expensive suites to the concession stands to the freshness of the cookies.” However, the truth is he “simply can’t afford not to be obsessed with the tiniest details.” Like “virtually every other college in the country, Michigan’s entire athletic department budget -- this year, all $133 million supporting 29 sports -- is built on the back of one thing: Football revenue.” Keteyian asked, “How much of that $133 million is your football team responsible for?” Brandon said, “About 75 percent.” Keteyian said that was “north of $90 million. Does that number keep you up at night?” Brandon: “It was Mark Twain who said, ‘If you put all your eggs in one basket, you better watch your basket.’ I watch my basket pretty carefully when it comes to football.” Brandon added, “The business model of big-time college athletics is primarily broken. It’s a horrible business model … You’ve got 125 of these programs. Out of 125, 22 of them were cash flow even or cash flow positive. Now thankfully, we’re one of those. What that means is you’ve got a model that’s not sustainable.” Keteyian noted the “program every school has been chasing is Alabama.” Keteyian asked Alabama coach Nick Saban about his $5M a year salary, “Are you worth it?” Saban: “Probably not. But I think the other side of that is you almost have to look at what return has there been on that investment.” Keteyian said since Saban “took over in 2007, Alabama’s profits have nearly tripled” (“60 Minutes,” CBS, 11/18).

PRICELESS EXPOSURE: In Detroit, Mark Snyder writes there is “no price tag” on the exposure Brandon and the UM program got from the “60 Minutes” feature. Brandon’s “thorough approach to leadership was highlighted” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 11/19).
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