So how much money did Appalachian State’s loss to Georgia Southern last Thursday night potentially cost Coastal Carolina?
It may have cost the CCU athletics department more than a half million dollars.
Here’s the explanation.
Sun Belt Conference members share bowl berth payments, though Sun Belt Conference Associate Commissioner for Strategic Communications Scottie Rodgers said the conference doesn’t share with the public exactly how the distribution is broken down.
A lucrative payment is reserved for the one Group of Five conference that sends a league champion to a New Year’s Six bowl game, which this year is the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
That team is chosen based on the highest ranking among Group of Five schools in the final College Football Playoff Rankings in early December. The rankings are created by a CFP selection committee.
The approximate payment this year is $4 million plus an additional $2.43M for the team’s travel expenses for the bowl game, according to Brett Daniels, the College Football Playoff’s Senior Director of Communications and Branding. That approximate $6.43 million could mean a share of more than a half a million dollars for most or all of the Sun Belt teams.
The Sun Belt has 12 schools, but only 10 play football, so it’s likely the football playing schools receive more from bowl berths than non-football schools Texas-Arlington and Arkansas-Little Rock.
The Group of Five Conferences are the Sun Belt, Mid-American, American Athletic, Conference USA and Mountain West.
Prior to its first loss Thursday – and prior to the release of the first CFP rankings on Tuesday – Appalachian State was ranked 20th in both the Associated Press and Amway Coaches polls, with only SMU ahead of it among the Group of Five teams, and the Mustangs lost to once-beaten Memphis on Saturday.
The Mountaineers would have had an opportunity to solidify their ranking or even move up slightly this weekend at South Carolina, where they are a six-point underdog, before finishing the season against Georgia State, Texas State and Troy. App. State already has a win over North Carolina of the ACC this season.
But with the loss, App. State is not in the initial CFP Rankings, and one-loss Group of Five teams Cincinnati (No. 20), Memphis (21), Boise State (22), Navy (24) and SMU (25) are all included in the ranking.
The Mountaineers are now 32nd in the amount of votes received in the AP Poll, behind non-Power Five Conference teams Cincinnati (No. 17), Memphis (19), Boise State (21), SMU (23), San Diego State (24), Navy (25), Central Florida (26) and Louisiana Tech (31).
So it is highly unlikely that the Mountaineers, the only Sun Belt team with just one loss, will be selected for the Cotton Bowl, whereas before the loss the likelihood was possible to even probable had they gone undefeated through the Sun Belt championship game.
Coastal’s athletic department received approximately $1.2 million from the Sun Belt last school year, according to CCU Assistant A.D. for Media Relations Kevin Davis.
That included money from bowl participation, TV contracts, NCAA men’s basketball tournament participation and other revenue including performance bonuses such as the conference’s bowl record compared to other Group of Five conferences, which last year was favorable at 3-2. The Sun Belt has affiliations with five bowls that annually choose conference teams that are bowl-eligible with at least six wins – the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Mobile Alabama Bowl (formerly Dollar General Bowl), Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, AutoNation Cure Bowl, and NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl.
In 2018, according to collegefootballpoll.com, the New Orleans Bowl had a total payout to both participants combined of $925,000, the Mobile Bowl paid $1.5 million, the Cure Bowl paid $751,000, the Arizona Bowl paid $413,000 and the Camelia Bowl paid $250,000.
Those are but a fraction of the New Year’s Six payout to a Group of Five conference.
Each Sun Belt bowl game participant receives a stipend from the conference to offset bowl expenses that comes from the conference’s overall operating budget, Rodgers said.
The College Football Playoff also pays $300,000 to conferences for each football team that meets the NCAA’s APR for participation in a bowl – that payment includes all FBS schools – which schools traditionally meet.
Additionally, the CFP pays a base payment, which when added to the full APR payments will be approximately $90 million to the Group of Five conferences collectively that they distribute amongst themselves. An equal distribution would be $18 million per conference. Comparatively, the Power Five Conferences each receive a base plus APR payment of approximately $66 million.
The new national bowl cycle begins in 2020 so not all bowls that will be affiliated with the Sun Belt have been determined and/or announced.
The Myrtle Beach Bowl will be part of the conference’s bowl affiliations in 2020, though the game can also choose from Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference so the Sun Belt is scheduled to provide a team four years in the six-year bowl cycle from 2020-25.
It is big business, and it could have been bigger for Coastal this year.
Coastal (4-5, 1-4) needs two wins in its final three games to become bowl eligible for the first time, and there are five conference teams ahead of the Chants in the race to be available for postseason play.
Appalachian State (7-1, 4-1 conference), Louisiana-Lafayette (7-2, 4-1) and Georgia State (6-2, 3-1) have already hit the six-win plateau, while Georgia Southern (5-3, 3-1) and Arkansas State (5-3, 3-2) are a win away.
Georgia Southern goes to Troy (3-5, 1-3) Saturday and Arkansas State is off this week before hosting Coastal at 3 p.m. (Eastern) next Saturday.
The Chants also have Louisiana-Monroe (3-5, 2-2) and Texas State (2-6, 1-3) to close out the year as they try to rebound from a 48-7 thrashing at the hands of UL-Lafayette on ESPNU, which was one of just two FBS games on Thursday.
“We’ve got to try to play better and not let a loss devastate us. It’s one night and you go back and keep working,” CCU coach Jamey Chadwell said. “Good days are coming. I believe that wholeheartedly. But sometimes you have to go through the labor pains, and we are, we’ve been up and down. Some days we play well and we look like a competent football team and then today we didn’t. But when you play really good teams you have to do some things to try to hang in there and we didn’t do that either.”
The Coastal student body nearly filled the student section for the prime time Thursday game for one of the few times at Brooks Stadium, for the first half at least.
“It’s deflating when you have all those students come out, it’s the first time we’ve gotten a decent amount of student support,” junior offensive lineman Trey Carter said. “They came out in full force and we couldn’t put on a show for them. That is probably the most difficult part about it. . . . They definitely came out and it was electric there in the first half.”