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BOGACZYK: C-USA `Bowls' to No. 2 in Computers

Angelo Jean-Louis
Jan. 18, 2015



            HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Who says the college football bowl season is mostly filled with meaningless games?

            Conference USA would beg to differ for a million reasons.

            With a 4-1 record in the bowl season – the .800 percentage was the best among the 10 FBS conferences – C-USA jumped up one spot among the Group of 5 leagues in the final computer rankings.



            It was a $1 million leap.

            Six computer rankings are one vehicle used by the Group of 5 conferences to divide revenue from the College Football Playoff. Payouts are determined by final ranking for the season after the bowls.

            That piece of the pie is $15 million, split on a $5-4-3-2-1 million basis, depending on final computer ranking, and the Mountain West got the $5 million top prize with four teams in the Group of 5 top six with the computers.

            Entering the bowls, C-USA ranked third, with a computer rank average of 85.923077. The American Athletic Conference was No. 2, at 85.106061 (lower number is better). However, those teams flip-flopped in the final rankings, after the AAC went 2-3 in bowls.

            C-USA receives a $4 million payout, with victories from Marshall, Louisiana Tech, Rice and Western Kentucky, with UTEP losing. The AAC gets $3 million. Memphis and Houston won, while East Carolina, Cincinnati and UCF lost.

            C-USA (82.179487) ended up with a 3.2-point edge over the AAC (85.333333). The Mid-American was a distant No. 4, with the Sun Belt in the final, $1 million spot. Conference USA was the only league among the Group of 5 to record a winning record in the postseason, and C-USA is 15-6 over the last four bowl years.

            So, what does this mean to Marshall?

            Well, with C-USA getting $4 million, the Herd’s portion is $285,714 (divided among 14 schools, including 2015 football member Charlotte). It would have been $214,285 at the $3 million level. That’s an additional $71,000-plus for the MU athletic program.

            The athletic directors of the Conference USA schools met Saturday in Washington, D.C., and the computer rankings finish was then revealed to them. That must have made Herd AD Mike Hamrick’s trip home a good one, right?

            Each of the Group of 5 conferences receives $12 million from the College Football Playoff in the first piece of the pie. Then, besides the aforementioned $15 million split, the conference with a team in the CFP bowls – the MWC, with Boise State, receives another $6 million.

            So, the first CFP is providing the Mountain West with $23 million. C-USA’s total will be $16 million, to be divided among 14 members – approximately $1.143 million per school.

            Meanwhile, the Herd finished No. 2 among Group of 5 conference teams in the average computer rankings. Boise State was No. 1 at 16.833, with Marshall at 20.667. The Herd was at 27.000 before beating MAC champ Northern Illinois in the Boca Raton Bowl. Boise climbed from 21.167 with its Fiesta Bowl upset of Arizona.

            In the final rankings, following the Broncos and Herd were Memphis (35.500), Colorado State (39.833), Utah State and Air Force (tied at 42.833), Northern Illinois (46.833), Louisiana Tech (47.333), Cincinnati (49.000) and UCF (55.333).

            The Conference USA team rankings, in order, were Marshall, Louisiana Tech, Rice, Western Kentucky, UAB and UTEP (tied), Middle Tennessee, Old Dominion, UTSA, FIU, Southern Miss, Florida Atlantic and North Texas.

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            When the final Nielsen telecast ratings numbers were counted, the Herd’s appearance in the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl was the No. 2-viewed postseason game among the five new bowls, as well as No. 2 among the 10 games that didn’t include a Power 5 conference team.

            What does getting bowl exposure mean to a program?

            Well, consider that in the last two seasons, Marshall has won two bowls – Military and Boca Raton – with combined viewership of 4.83 million. The Boca Bowl viewership (2.248 million) was down from the 2013 Military Bowl viewership (2.58 million) for Marshall-Maryland.

            Here are some other Herd- and bowl-related telecast numbers:

            *The Boca Raton Bowl (ESPN, Marshall-Northern Illinois, Dec. 23) was the No. 2-rated game among the five new bowls (Boca Raton, Miami Beach, Camellia, Bahamas, Quick Lane). The Boca viewership was 2.248 million.

            The only larger viewership among new bowls was for the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, which had an ACC-Big Ten matchup (ESPN, Rutgers-North Carolina; Friday, Dec. 26, 4:30 p.m.). The Quick Lane had 2.869 million viewers.

            *The Boca Bowl viewership of 2.248 million (ESPN) was slightly more than three times the viewership for the Marshall-Louisiana Tech Conference USA Championship game on Dec. 6 (ESPN2).

            The title game at Edwards Stadium had 725,000 viewers. That was up 61.5 percent from the 449,000 who viewed the 2013 C-USA title game between Rice and Marshall on ESPN2.

            *Of the nine games that did not include a Power 5 conference team, only the Poinsettia Bowl (Navy-San Diego State, Dec. 23, 9:30 p.m.), with 2.464 million viewers, topped Marshall-Northern Illinois, which immediately preceded the Poinsettia.

            *Marshall’s two national telecast games on Nielsen-rated networks this season were on FS1. The Nov. 28 Western Kentucky game had 463,000 viewers. The Oct. 25 Florida Atlantic telecast had 137,000 viewers.