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Canzano: College football waits for the trickle down of TV money
FCS funds programs with payday games
Count Portland State University football coach Bruce Barnum among those wringing their hands over what happens next with major college football.
“I still need money games,” Barnum told me.
The Vikings subsidize the football program — and the rest of the PSU athletic department — by playing a couple of “payday” games every season.
This season, PSU will make $500,000 to play at Washington and another $435,000 to play at San Jose State. In 2023, PSU will collect a $575,000 check for playing at Oregon and another $400,000 to play at Wyoming. In 2024, the Vikings travel to Washington State ($563,000) and San Diego State ($475,000).
That six-game haul: $2,948,000.
Said Barnum: “Am I going to still be able to play the Pac-12 and still be able to get that money?”
The Vikings have a 2-10 record in their last 12 payday games. Both upset victories over FBS opponents came in 2015. PSU knocked off Mike Leach and Washington State 24-17 and then beat North Texas 66-7 the same season. The Vikings went 2-0 and collected a combined $925,000 to play those games.
Incidentally, the 59-point margin of victory vs. North Texas was the most lopsided win in history by a FCS program over an FBS opponent. After the game, North Texas promptly fired coach Dan McCarney.
Barnum is carefully watching the developments in the Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12 and thinking about how it might impact — or benefit — his mission. Given the television money pouring into the upper division of college football right now, the market for the payday games may increase.
“That’s the line I’m in,” Barnum said. “I would love to just play one of those games every season. I would love to take one of those games off my docket in the future. I’d like to play only one of them. I’m tired of two games with odds of winning being low. I’ll be in the front of the line, calling anyone who has an open date.”
Barnum said he was approached by Alabama after the 2016 season about possibly playing a payday game in 2019 or 2020. The Crimson Tide were coming off a national championship and noticed Washington’s 41-3 win over PSU on the schedule that season.
Said Barnum: “Washington smacked me in the chops and went to the semifinal of the playoff. So Alabama saw it and said, ‘Well, if Washington can play them and still get to the playoff, we should play them, too.’”
Barnum was already scheduled to play at Arkansas in 2019. He didn’t want to play road games vs. two SEC programs. Well, not unless Alabama was really willing to pay for it.
“I told them, ‘$1.7 million and I’m all yours,’” Barnum said. “I will roll in and not even ask for sandwiches.”
The game was not scheduled.
SHOW TIME: I arrived to Pac-12 Media Day on Friday at 6:45 a.m. and left about 11 hours later. During my trip to Los Angeles, I wrote a few columns (one and two and three) and conducted 34 informative and fun 1-on-1 interviews with coaches, players and the conference commissioner.
We aired 15 of those interviews (one-stop shop) on the statewide radio show on Friday. We’ll play my unaired talks with Arizona State coach Herm Edwards and Arizona coach Jedd Fisch today from 3-6 p.m. I have a pile of leftover interviews with a variety of Pac-12 players from Friday that you will really enjoy.
LISTEN UP: Thrilled to announce that Jon Wilner and I have formed a new alliance. We’ve signed on with Alpha Media and created a podcast — “Canzano & Wilner” — that will cover a variety of topics, including the Pac-12 Conference.
I’ve known Wilner for years and we were co-workers when I covered the NFL and MLB at the San Jose Mercury News. We don’t always agree, but I respect the heck out of the guy. It’s a project we’ve discussed for several months and we’ve now officially launched it with an introductory episode.
Thank you for reading. I appreciate all who have supported, subscribed and shared my new independent endeavor with friends and family in recent months. If you haven’t already — please consider subscribing.