Elite Football Teams Have the Deeper Pockets

By Harris, John | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 11, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Elite Football Teams Have the Deeper Pockets


Harris, John, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


When No. 1 LSU defeated then-No. 2 Alabama this past weekend, it was a matchup between two of the best college football teams in the country.

LSU and Alabama also are two of the best college football teams money can buy.

According to numbers from the U.S. Department of Education regarding athletic departments' finances from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 (encompassing the 2009 football season), Alabama ranked second in football expenses. LSU was fourth.

Ohio State led all teams with $31.8 million in football expenses.

Alabama spent $31.1 million on its football program in 2009, the same year it won the national championship. Auburn, last year's national champion, was third at $27.9 million. LSU, now the favorite to become this year's national champion after winning the 2007 title, was next at $25.6 million.

Six of the top 10 teams with the highest football expenses in 2009 were from the SEC, a conference housing the past five national champions.

Moreover, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Florida and the Big 12's Texas combined to win the last six national titles.

In this week's Top 25 poll, LSU is No. 1, followed by Alabama (No. 4), Oklahoma (No. 7), Arkansas (No. 8), Penn State (No. 12), South Carolina (No. 15), Wisconsin (No. 16), Texas (No. 21) and Auburn (No. 24). Florida isn't ranked.

Among other teams in this week's poll reporting football expenses in 2009, No. 2 Oklahoma State spent $15.5 million, No. 3 Stanford spent $17.2 million, and No. 6 Oregon spent $18.1 million. No. 9 Clemson and No. 10 Virginia Tech spent $16.3 million each.

Pitt, which will leave the Big East for the ACC, had $17.4 million in football expenses in 2009. That placed the Panthers second in the conference behind Rutgers ($19.5 million) and would have ranked them third among ACC teams behind Boston College ($17.9 million) and Miami ($17.9 million).

Pitt coach Todd Graham anticipates the Panthers will increase their recruiting budget upon joining the ACC.

"Moving to the ACC is a big plus," Graham said. "We're excited about the future there. We're Pitt. The key is Western Pennsylvania for us, and we've had a lot of success there. Going to the ACC, we feel like you have to expand. I love the conference because it's straight down the eastern seaboard. It's hard to recruit areas you don't play in.

"Now, we're going into Georgia and playing (against Georgia Tech). We're going to be playing in all the states along the eastern seaboard. We've got a lot of ties in the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida. We also will be heavily recruiting down there.''

West Virginia, which is leaving the Big East for the Big 12, reported $14.3 million in football expenses in 2009. That ranks fourth among Big East teams and places the Mountaineers eighth in the Big 12. Two Big 12 teams with higher expenses than the Mountaineers in 2009, Nebraska and Texas A&M, have joined the Big Ten and SEC, respectively.

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