Even if you don’t care about football, there are two times each year when most people are at least mildly interested in the sport: The Superbowl and The College National Championship.  Here are some interesting facts to throw around with your friends as you attempt to appear to care about the game tonight.

  1.  The head coaches of each team are typically given a performance bonus under the terms of their contract for both an appearance in the National Championship and for winning it.  This year, Kirby Smart has already received $400,000 for winning the SEC championship.  He received an additional $600,000 for making it to the National Championship.  If Georgia wins, he’ll get another $400,000.  For icing on the cake, by finishing in the top-5 national rankings, he’ll receive $200,000, and if he wins a couple of coaching awards, he can receive another $150,000.  His base salary is about $3.75 million, meaning a win tonight and a couple of assumed awards would net UGA’s lead Dawg  $1.75 million and a 47% raise for the year (vs. his base).
  2. Some insurance company is probably going to lose money tonight.  If there’s a risky outcome, it can be insured.  A couple of years ago, Clemson insured the bonuses due to Dabo Swinney if he won a national title.  The University paid approximately $275,000 for the policy, which paid out approximately $2 million in bonuses.  While betting against Nick Saban isn’t the wisest decision, I’d bet some insurer has.  Hopefully, they’re really smart and also bet against Kirby Smart when they wrote the policy.
  3. Conferences claim things are rigged, and I’m guessing it’s because there’s $6 million given to the conference when one of their teams makes the title game.  This means that the SEC gets $12 million guaranteed on top of at least $54 million.
  4. Here’s a fact for the next time parents of a smart, non-athlete complain about how too much focus is given to sports at the University.  Alabama football reportedly generates revenues of $100 million per year while spending $41 million.  In 2016, the University generated just under $900 million in operating revenue (loosely defined as anything but gifts and grants).  Thet net income of $59 million (revenue minus expense) from football directly accounts for about 1/3 of the total income for the University.  That doesn’t include money given to the University because rich people love watching winning football while putting their names on buildings.
  5. Based on numbers from Clemson’s win last year, Alabama and Georgia can expect to spend substantially less than they earn by playing in tonight’s game.  Clemson netted $5-$10 million in each of its last two appearances.  Given how little travel the teams have to get to today’s game, we can safely assume that UGA and Alabama will at least match that take-home cash.
  6. Economic Impact is generally like the points awarded in “Who’s line is it anyway?”- they have no specific meaning and they’re made up anyway.  Even so, it’s worth knowing that tonight’s game is estimated to provide an economic impact to Atlanta of anywhere from $65 million to $100 million.  Details of any such study are more art than science, and I’m guessing they don’t include all of the $1.5 Billion (and ever-growing) cost of the new Mercedes “Eye of Sauran” Dome.  Still, the positive effect of the single game is at least likely to cover the cost of ensuring that the roof will finally open and close (fully) anytime Arthur Blank wants.  I like to imagine he asks Siri to do it.  Because it rarely works.
  7. The cheapest ticket on StubHub for tonight’s game has fallen from about $2,500 late last week to $1,350.  For those wondering, that’s less than 10% the price of one Bitcoin and quite a steal when you think about it that way.
  8. President Trump is scheduled to land in Cobb county around 6pm, which means get anywhere you’re going anywhere in Atlanta before 5:30pm.  While the cost to taxpayers is very hard to gauge, I was able to find a report that Palm Beach, Fl budgets about $100,000 per year for Presidential visits.  The cost of the loss of sanity for a few hundred thousand people from sitting in traffic for 4 hours is not included in this budget.  Of course, while no city is reimbursed for the expense of these visits, we do have the assurance that our own “crime-infested” district will be make at least $65 million regardless of whether or not our President shows up.  I assume we’ll put that towards future crime prevention.



  1. The numbers for number 4 don’t work. The two are unrelated to one another. Unless it’s a typo, there’s no correlation between the University bringing in $900 million and the football program having a profit of $59 million. Additionally, Athletic money and university operations are not mixed, so the football program generates money for the…football program. It’s both a separate corporate entity and a non-profit athletic association which is why people can give directly to the program, or they can make donations to the university. Theoretically, if the university closed, the football program could remain open from a fiscal perspective. Physically, it might be tough to convince people that you weren’t running a professional football team.

    • Mark, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this. Since I didn’t spend a ton of time putting this together, I was concerned that I might have misinterpreted some things, as you said I did. I reread the annual report just now, and it turns out I’m right. As an important aside- correlation involves regression analysis. Addition and subtraction are all that I did in this very limited analysis, though admittedly, I got the football numbers from a different source than the totals for the University. Also, always remember, good news to groups, bad news to individuals. If you think I’m wrong, which greatly outnumbers the times I’m right, just send me an email and I’ll happily correct it. Here’s a direct quote from the 2015-2016 Annual Financial Statement defining “Operating Revenue” – “The statements of revenues, expenses and changes in net position (“SRECNP”) present the revenues received by the University, both operating and nonoperating, and the expenses paid by the University, both operating and nonoperating, and any other revenues and expenses received or expended by the University. Primary components of the University’s operating revenue sources are tuition and fees; and auxiliary sales and services, which are generated from self-supporting departments including Intercollegiate Athletics, residence halls, food service operations, and the UA Supply Store. Additionally, the University seeks funding from the federal and state governments and sponsored programs in support of its mission of teaching, research, and service. Other significant revenue sources, which are considered nonoperating as defined by the GASB, include State educational appropriations, private gifts, investment income, and Federal Pell grants.” I’d encourage you to always check before you tell somebody they’re wrong. Here’s the link.

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