Notre Dame is going to come out on top nationally -- at least financially -- regardless of what happens with USC and whichever BCS bowl the Irish end up in.
Notre Dame will receive $6.2 million if it participates in a BCS bowl game, title game or not. That figure on first glance pales in comparison to the $23.6 million each automatic-qualifying BCS team will receive for participating in a BCS game. But as an independent, Notre Dame can bank its entire BCS payout.
That’s different from other teams, whose conferences all have provisions forcing bowl money to be shared among all members. In automatic-qualifying conferences, typically all bowl proceeds are divided equally between conference members after travel and expenses for the BCS bowl team are subtracted. Non-automatic qualifying conferences have an agreement to divide BCS money between all five non-AQ conferences.
Here’s how it worked last year for the SEC: The conference bowl distribution to each school was $2.85 million, bolstered by both Alabama and LSU making the title game, which brought in an extra $6.2 million to the conference for Alabama’s at-large selection. Alabama and LSU would have kept $1.9 million each for participating in the national championship game, meaning each would have earned $4.8 million.
That’s about as close as a conference school can get to the Notre Dame haul for being in a BCS game. So no matter what happens from here on out, the Irish will come out on top.