Gators Chomping on Cold, Hard Cash

UF ranks third among the nation's high-revenue athletic programs, behind Texas and Ohio State

Big-time college football is very, very lucrative. One doesn't have to look very far past ESPN's $2.25 billion TV deal with the SEC to figure that out. But thankfully, there's a report from SportsBusiness Journal to tidy it all up for us in a little column.

The highest-revenue college football programs last year:

1.  Texas - $72.95 million
2.  Georgia - $67.05 million
3.  Florida - $66.1 million
4.  Ohio State - $65.16 million
5.  Notre Dame - $59.77 million
6.  Auburn - $59.67 million
7.  Michigan - $57.46 million
8.  Alabama - $57.37 million
9.  Penn State - $53.76 million
10.  LSU - $52.68 million

If one were to include all sports, just replace Georgia with Ohio State, whose bump just might be attributed to their success cornering the Iranian protest community sweatshirt market. Texas, where Mack Brown reigns over a horde of recruits whose high school programs could top some D-I schools, tops the pile with a haul of $120.3 million.  OSU comes second with $118 million, and the Gators are third, again, with a total athletic department revenue of $106 million.

It's hard to believe how much fans -- and media, for that matter -- spend on college programs in fairly bleak economic times. Those are absolutely staggering figures, but what's more notable is the divide between large conference programs (five of those teams are in the SEC, three in the Big Ten) and everyone else.  The Florida athletic department is "giving" $6 million dollars to the university to cover a shortage in state funding, while the University of Miami will be taking a bus to two games next season to save on airfare. 

With the exception of Notre Dome, who must keep Charlie Weis filled with donuts and the blood of the innocent, the top ten are all winning programs at large state schools with untold alumni and a wide geographic reach.  No surprise there, though we suspect Urban Meyer is starting to grasp what Biggie Smalls meant when he wrote his economic theory, "mo' money, mo' problems."

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