Monday, October 26, 2009

I-FCS Cupcakes

One of the more interesting topics in sports economics lately has been the market for cupcakes in college football, teams who are brought in just to get beat. These payouts can be quite profitable for small schools that cannot make big money selling tickets to their home games. Phil Miller and Stephen Karlson point to a story on Michigan bringing in Delaware State just to get beat. Delaware State had to forfeit a conference game to play the game:

You see, the Michigan Wolverines dangled $550,000 in front of the Hornets to play this Saturday. The only catch Delaware State already had a conference game set against North Carolina A&T set for that date.

So what did the Hornets do? Well what every Football Championship Series team would do: forfeit the conference game, take the money and, oh yeah, lose to Michigan 63-6.

I will quibble with one point made. I do not think every FCS (I-AA) school would do that. I do not think any team that has a shot at a playoff spot would make that decision. Also, FCS has a lot of schools that have long histories and reputations to protect. It is hard to imagine schools with prestigious reputations like William and Mary, Lafayette, or the Ivy League schools forfeiting a game for a payout. Also schools with strong reputations as top teams in FCS, even if they are having non-playoff seasons such as Georgia Southern, would not make this decision. Most of the schools most in need of the money may not feel comfortable enough with their position in their conference to forfeit a conference game. Because the MEAC is a conference made up specifically of HBC schools the connections between the schools may be stronger, and Delaware State might have been less concerned about punishment from the conference.

Given all of the reasons above, there are probably only a handful of teams in FCS that would make a similar decision.

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