Wednesday, September 10, 2008

'Money games' mix good with bad

The smaller schools call them “money games,” and essentially what they amount to is taking a beating from a larger program in return for checks that reach $400,000 and higher.

Appalachian State, which stunned the football world by winning one of those at Michigan last year, opened its season with another at LSU and was clobbered, restoring the natural order of things. Mountaineers coach Jerry Moore said he wouldn’t play more than one “money game” annually, because losing two can hurt your chances for the playoffs.

Southern Conference teams have two scheduled for this weekend—Chattanooga is at Florida State and Samford at Mississippi. Chattanooga will be playing its second money game of the season; the Mocs have already lost 57-2 at Oklahoma.

“We did that with Kansas and LSU in ’05. You’re looking at the possibility of two losses, now what’s that going to do to you? Now you’ve got to win the championship (to get in the playoffs). That’s the only thing I think you’ve got to guard against.”

The guarantees, though, help keep the smaller programs going. Close to half a million dollars can make a huge difference at schools that don’t regularly draw 50,000 to 100,000 fans.

— Stan Olson