Dienhart: High cost of non-con games is vexing

Here’s a very nice story by Jesse Temple of FOXSportsWisconsin.com that takes an exhaustive look at the rising cost of payouts to non-conference opponents visiting Big Ten schools.

Nothing overly shocking in the piece, but the detail of what schools are paying is interesting. Temple writes that “Big Ten teams will shell out $22,868,246 for 38 home games in 2014 (Temple couldn’t get the Temple-Penn State contract) — an average of roughly $601,796 per game. The cost for the type of guarantees against Football Bowl Subdivision mid-major teams that don’t require a return visit is significantly higher, with Big Ten teams paying an average of $827,838 on 17 games.”

The story also notes that 10 schools will pay at least $800,000 for a guaranteed non-conference home game – Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers and Wisconsin. Three schools — Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska — will pay at least $1 million for a single game.

It all seems like a lot of money to pay for games that usually aren’t competitive nor have much appeal to fans. If that’s the case, then why play them? We know why: These games vs. MAC schools and others serve as “preseason” tune-ups to Big Ten games, a way to pad the record and develop your team before the heavy lifting begins. Still, this is an awful lot of money to pay for what usually are glorified exhibitions. You’d think the money could be spent in a better way.

Again, maybe playing just two non-con games with 10 leagues games is the way to go, but that poses some issues, too.

Regardless, it is a bit vexing to see resources like this devoted to paying opponents that typically excite no one.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Ben on 6/4/2014 @ 7:53pm EDT Said:

We get it Big Ten Network-you hate non con games. Lay off already, and let Big Ten teams play some warm up games before the grueling conference schedule.