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3-9 Football Seasons Don't Pay The Rent

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Via <a href="http://ncaafootball.fanhouse.com/2007/10/15/this-week-in-schadenfreude-nebraskas-espn-sports-zone-moment/" target="new">Fanhouse</a>
Via Fanhouse

Syracuse athletic programs are making great gains on the field by climbing the Director's Cup standings to it's best-ever 63rd-place finish this past season.  Off the field, Orange gains in the financial sector are a little slower to come by.

In 2006-2007, Syracuse finished an abysmal 110th in the Director's Cup standings, below the likes of Montana State, Jacksonville & Winthrop (seriously, think about that).  According to the Daily Orange, athletics revenue in '06-'07 was $42.5 million, not good enough to make a profit.  Since then, DOC Gross has been on a mission to make SU an all-around athletics power and, to his credit, he is succeeding.  

In '07-'08, SU jumped up to 87th overall in the Director's Cup standings, now putting them among schools like Utah, Memphis and Pittsburgh.  Unfortunately, revenue didn't followed suit.  According to the Orlando Sentinel and the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education (whew), the Orange pulled in $44.7 million in revenue over that period, only a $2M gain.  I don't have spending stats over that time but I'm willing to bet profits were slim, if there were any at all.

Now in '08-'09, SU continues to move up the ladder on the overall Director's Cup chart.  Financial numbers won't be available until next year but, again, I'm not so sure revenue jumps all that much.  Granted, this past athletics season saw the return of the basketball team to the NCAA Tournament and another championship for the men's lacrosse program, but the point that these numbers seem to make is as evident as it is obvious.

Football isn't pulling it's weight.

This isn't breaking news for anyone, of course.  But we as fans tends to base everyone on the emotional state of things when determining if a situation is critical.  When Doug Marrone says "I cannot fail," we infer that as a pride thing, that Doug needs to win football games to restore honor and tradition.  This is true, but he also cannot fail for a much better reason.  No matter how good our soccer teams and field hockey teams and volleyball teams and even our lacrosse teams get, none of them will impact the bottom line in a way that even closely resembles the way football can.

A return to football glory and the ticket sales, merchandise, bowl money and other forms of revenue that come with it are the one giant thing that keeps our financial numbers stagnant while our on-the-field numbers rise. All the

A quick glance at the top of that revenue list proves that it's the football schools that bring in the most cash.  That doesn't mean they're sitting pretty, as many of them have costs that would make Syracuse blush, but it only goes to show the value of a dominant football program over just having good basketball & lacrosse teams.

As far as Big East teams are concerned, despite the lack of football success, the Orange are still in decent shape by comparison.  They're 5th out of the 8 football programs.  And surprisingly-yet-not-surprisingly-at-all, Cincy is bringing up the rear despite winning the Big East last season.  Likely, the impact of their great run last year won't be felt financially until this upcoming season.

The Orange should be due for a boost just based on the excitement of the Doug Marrone Era.  But if the Orange start losing and losing big early, that goodwill might evaporate quickly, especially given the economic climate.  SU fans have already answered the question "Do I want to pay $100-$200 to watch my team get beat by 40?"  They don't want to be asked again.