Due to their proximity, the MAC and Big Ten frequently play early season non-conference games, almost always at the Big Ten teams' home stadiums. As usual, the MAC will be receiving some chunks of cash in 2014 when they make the trip. Thanks to FoxSportsWisconsin.com, we can take a look at what the exact amounts will be.
|MAC Team||Big Ten Team||Payout Amount|
|Eastern Michigan||Michigan State||$650,000|
|Kent State||Ohio State||$850,000|
The MAC and other non-power conferences have long earned large sums of money to travel and play in a power conference team's home stadium. The benefits to this arrangement are pretty simple. The power conference teams are looking for (hopefully) an easy win as a tune-up to their conference schedule. It doesn't benefit them to schedule tougher opponents as one loss could be the death knell in their season and championship dreams. While the introduction of a playoff system may make a loss more affordable, there won't be a serious change in scheduling practices with only four teams qualifying for the playoffs.
For the non-power conference teams, the benefit is based on one thing. A huge paycheck that is vital to the athletic department. The MAC and the other non-power conferences don't have nearly the same money coming in from ticket sales and television revenues and rely on these paychecks to help keep their budget afloat.
There are some other tangential benefits for the MAC and the non-power conferences. Telling kids they'll have the chance to play in front of 100,000 fans and plenty more on television is an attractive offer and having the chance to upset the big dogs is something everyone relishes. There is nothing to lose from a football standpoint and sometimes that will allow a team to be more relaxed and focused. Looking just at last year, Akron really turned their season around after taking Michigan to the wire in the Big House.
All told MAC teams stand to make a combined $7,525,000 off their games vs. Big Ten opponents this year. As the Fox Sports Wisconsin article mentions, the paychecks for the MAC will only continue to get bigger. Much more money is involved in ticket sales and television revenues for the power conferences and with those conferences moving away from scheduling FCS teams, the demand for teams in the MAC will be greater and greater.