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What are "Guarantee Games" in College Football?

ByAndrew Pistone

2 min read

What are "Guarantee Games" in College Football?

As the 2022 college football season gets underway, there are many behemoth matchups on the calendar pitting power five conference behemoths against one another. The results of those games will determine which four teams make the college football playoff next January.

There are other matchups that are scheduled at slightly less appealing times with less of a spectacle.

They usually feature college blue blood versus FCS or second division schools, and culminate in 55 point routs. Sure, it’s fun for the big bad program and their fan base to trounce an inferior opponent, but what value do these games serve?

They actually are pretty important in the grand scheme of things from a college football business perspective.

Take the Kent State Golden flashes football program for example. They faced the Texas A&M Aggies a year ago, in what is a classic David versus Goliath matchup. They will also go up against the Iowa Hawkeyes later this month, where the odds are very much stacked against them.

However, Kent State is slated to make $5.2 million for agreeing to play the role of fodder for Big 12 and Big 10 contenders.

Especially during the ongoing pandemic, the money that flows through to smaller schools via these matchups is no small stimulus package. It’s often well worth the drubbing their school will have to take in order to help fund an institution’s athletic endeavors.

“That(games that were supposed to be played against UCLA and Florida but were cancelled) was a massive percentage of our overall loss,” said New Mexico State athletic director Mario Moccia. It just shows, if you’re just going to play those two games, the economic impact wouldn’t have been nearly as drastic for us.” Via USA Today.com

In what might be viewed as a pretty altruistic gesture, UCLA has scheduled games against HBCU’s in the next two seasons. Alabama State will square off against the Bruins this year and receive $590,000. North Carolina Central will visit Southern California next year, and take home $700,000.

It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes smaller schools can have their cake and eat it too. In one of the most shocking college football upsets ever, Appalachian State defeated the University of Michigan at the Big House in 2006. Appalachian State also received a guaranteed 400,000 payout before any plays were made. Coaches of smaller schools use that example as the glimmer of hope their program needs to go into enemy territory and play hard.

While these games might be viewed as a waste of time by the general public, they provide exposure and economic sustenance to schools that actually need it. From that perspective alone, fans should be rooting for guarantee games between these types of schools to continue.

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