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Ohio State beats LSU...

in revenue. But LSU reported a bigger profit than Ohio State. Both schools are among the top money makers in college football and the rich teams keep getting richer.

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A weekly column by Chris Isidore, senior writer

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Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman will lead the Buckeyes against LSU in the BCS Championship game on Jan. 7. Both OSU and LSU are top ten teams in terms of annual sales and profits.

NEW YORK ( -- There has never been a better year for upsets in college football than 2007. But there's one place where the traditional powerhouses still dominate - in the rankings of revenue and profits.

Financial results filed by almost every college with the Department of Education show that the rich are getting richer while the poor college football programs and schools are continuing to struggle.

The top team in both revenue and profits was the University of Texas, with revenue of $63.8 million and a profit of $43.2 million. The rankings, which analyzes annually, are based on data from the 2006-07 school year, the most recent figures available.

It's a return to the top for Texas, which had been edged out of the revenue lead by Notre Dame and fell to No. 3 in profit behind the Irish and Georgia during 2005-06, even though that was the year Texas won the national championship. In 2004-05, Texas reported the most revenue and profits of any college football program.

Texas didn't have as great a year on the field in 2007 as it has in recent years. The Longhorns missed out on making it to the higher profile Bowl Championship Series games, finishing with a 10-3 record that was topped off by a win over Arizona State in the second-tier Holiday Bowl.

And big money doesn't necessarily guarantee wins. Notre Dame, after all, pocketed $63.7 million in revenue and $45.8 million in profits during the 2006-2007 academic year.

That would have made Notre Dame number two in revenue and profits but it wasn't enough to keep the storied football team from having one of its worst years ever in 2007 - the Golden Domers finished with 3 wins and 9 losses. Since it didn't earn a bowl spot, it doesn't make our rankings of college football profit and losses.

But many of the other schools going to the BCS games are, not surprisingly, as successful on the financial field as they are on the gridiron.

Ohio State, which will play in the BCS championship game for the second consecutive season, had revenue of $59.3 million, putting it No. 3 among the 64 teams going to a bowl this year behind only Texas and Georgia. It was No. 9 in profit, at $26.6 million, as the school spent by far the most money on its football program - $32.5 million. That's more than twice the $15 million average spent by the 44 major conference schools in one of this year's bowls.

The Buckeyes' opponent in the Jan. 7 championship game, Louisiana State University, is No. 8 in revenue at $48.1 million, and No. 7 in terms of profit at $31.7 million.

Florida, last year's champ, was No. 4 in terms of revenue among this year's bowl teams at $58.9 million, and No. 3 in terms of profit at $36.2 million. It lost to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday.

Why do the teams with the best won-loss records also seem to consistently come out on top of the profit and loss standings as well?

It all starts with the $170 million paid out by the five BCS games. These bowl games tend to feature the top schools from the biggest conferences. And money from these games gets paid out not just to the participants in the games but to other schools from their conferences. So even losing teams in a top conference are assured a nice payout.

The 10 teams that get invited to the big dollar BCS bowl games get the same money whether or not they win, and they don't get to keep all of the $17 million appearance money that goes to each participant. Instead they share the money with other members of their conference.

So the major conferences that are assured spots in the BCS bowls - the Big Ten, the Big 12, the SEC, the Pac 10, the Big East and the ACC - are guaranteed to send huge paychecks to their members, no matter how they do on the field.

Most of the top schools also have huge stadiums, which means big revenue from ticket sales, as well as lucrative television contracts. All of this makes college football the most uneven financial playing field of any major U.S. sport.

Even so-called Cinderellas are in much better financial shape than schools not affiliated with big conferences.

Kansas, a Big 12 school that was one of the great surprise success stories of the year, would have been one of the smallest dollar contenders in recent years if the team wound up finishing the year undefeated. The Jayhawks lost to rival Missouri on November 24, dashing its national title hopes. It finishes its season playing Virginia Tech on Thursday in the Orange Bowl.

But while Kansas may not have the financial clout of a Texas or Ohio State, the Jayhawks football program is hardly a pauper. With revenue of $11.3 million and a profit of $1.4 million, Kansas would be considered a top dollar powerhouse among the programs outside of the BCS conferences.

Of the major conferences, only the ACC had numerous schools that lost money on their football program in the 2006-07 academic year. Not surprisingly, the ACC had only one team in the BCS bowls last year.

The teams that get spots in the other bowls also have to split their bowl appearance money with their conferences. But those 27 bowls together payout only about $80 million of appearance fees between them.

And with the high costs of sending the large roster of players, cheerleaders, bands and other support staff to the bowl games, generally for the better part of a week, teams that appear in the non-BCS bowls often lose money on the experience, or at best break even in all but a few instances.

There are 18 schools not from BCS conferences in bowl games this year which report their financial results (Navy and Air Force do not). Of those schools, half of them lost money last year, with Tulsa losing the most at $3.7 million after its appearance in last year's Armed Services Bowl.

Houston had the second biggest loss at $3.4 million, after traveling to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis last year. No. 3 in losses is Ball State, which lost $3 million, and did not make a bowl appearance.

Neither of those teams, which play in Conference USA and the Mid America Conference respectively, had much in the way of television money or ticket sales, and thus were among the lowest revenue schools trying to compete in the big dollar world of college football.

Ball State had the smallest revenue of any bowl team this year at $1.6 million, while Houston was the fourth smallest at $3.5 million.

Of course, there is the rare small conference school, like undefeated Hawaii this year, that gets to go to a BCS game. Last year, Boise State delivered a big payday for both its own program and its conference, the WAC, with its BCS appearance. Hawaii, which lost to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl on Tuesday, is also in the WAC.

Boise State, which memorably upset Oklahoma with a series of trick plays in the 2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, took in $12.1 million in revenue during that academic year. This year it lost to East Carolina in the much smaller dollar Hawaii Bowl, which pays out only $1.5 million to the two teams that make the trip and their conferences.

But the big payouts for the small conference teams are the exception, not the rule. The 44 schools from BCS conferences that are playing in a bowl game this year had combined revenue of $1.3 billion, which represented about 72 percent of all the revenue from Football Bowl Subdivision, schools, formerly known as Division I-A.

These schools had combined profits of $623 million, which equals 91 percent of the combined profit in college football at any level and about 87 percent of the profit from all 123 FBS schools.

And remember, there are dozens of schools from those big dollar conferences that aren't even in the bowls, and are still pulling down the big dollars.

Meanwhile many if not most of the bowl eligible football programs from outside the BCS conferences are losing money, or posting at best a narrow profit.

And below that level, profits are even rarer. Appalachian State, which started this season with an upset win at Michigan and ended it with its third consecutive Football Championship Subdivision championship, formerly known as Division I-AA, was able to bring in $4.6 million in revenue and a profit of $2.6 million last year.

But overall, college football programs outside of the FBS lost $38 million between them last year.

So it's been a fun year for the underdogs and the upstarts in college football this year - at least until the schools have to take a look at their bottom line. Then, the real champs are once again in places like Austin, Texas, and South Bend, Ind., no matter what the scoreboards read. To top of page

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