Chat with Darren Rovell
Rovell blogs on ESPN Insider, has a weekly podcast available on Apple.com and is the author of First in Thirst: How Gatorade Turned The Science of Sweat Into A Cultural Phenomenon.
Send in your questions now and join Rovell for the answers on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. ET!
Darren Rovell (2:32 PM)
Hello everyone. I love college bowl season. Let's talk some business. Who is selling tickets? What schools are hurting their traveling reputations, etc.?
Darren -- I am assuming that Notre Dame has been very lucrative for NBC this season. How many years are left on the ND-NBC contract? Thanks!
Darren Rovell (2:33 PM)
They just signed a new deal last year with NBC. Some people were wondering why NBC did it. This season and Charlie Weis is why! Costs NBC about $9 million per year and I think this year they did very well, Rich. It's not that much money in the General Electric (NBC's owner) budget anyway.
Darren Rovell (2:33 PM)
By the way, I believe that deal is through 2010.
Christine (Tallahassee, FL)
There are only two bowls held in northern states (MPC Computer in Idaho and Motor City in Michigan). How much is the lack of cold weather bowls due to economic (travel) concerns as opposed to a lack of sites to host? How much do you believe the two are related?
Darren Rovell (2:35 PM)
Like the question. It's definitely hard for fans to fly to cold weather bowls. It's why Boise State is pretty much locked into the MPC because there's no travel there and the Motor City would not exist if there wasn't a MAC school tie in -- everything is a drive away. That being said, tickets are probably cheaper to those places around the holidays. It's nice to go to Orlando, but on three weeks notice, it's very cost prohibitive to go to a bowl game.
Matt, Happy Camp, CA
Do you think the BCS system screwed Oregon, or do you think the battle of U of O's in the Holiday bowl is a fitting matchup.
Darren Rovell (2:36 PM)
Matt, I will say this -- it has nothing to do with travel. U of O as all BCS teams do would have sold out their allotment. Fans seem to think that OSU would travel more -- not true. When it comes down to ratings though, I'd have to believe that Ohio State is a bigger draw and the BCS lives off their TV contracts.
Do you think Virginia Tech travels well?If so are they the best at traveling to big road and big bowl games?
Darren Rovell (2:38 PM)
Mike, I have an article coming out in a couple minutes on the college football page that discusses the winners and losers in the travel game. Virginia Tech is a big winner this year. Why? Well, they kind of wound up in a consolation game after losing to FSU and they are sending more than 15,000 fans. Michigan and Wisconsin are the big losers only sending 5,500 and 8,000 to their games.
Brian (Lake Worth, FL)
Darren-I enjoy your work, we've emailed one another before. How do some of these lower tier bowls survive with all the empty seats?
Darren Rovell (2:40 PM)
Thanks Brian. The answer is they put the cost of on the schools. Most bowls -- I know the Hawaii Bowl is an exception -- require schools to purchase allotments of 10,000 tickets or more, if they don't it comes out of their payout. So how do the lower tier bowls survive? Because the colleges are subsidizing them. I'd say half the teams traveling to bowl games this year go at a financial loss.
Dan (Chicago, IL)
Did Iowa get picked in the outback bowl over Michigan because they travel so well?
Darren Rovell (2:42 PM)
Dan, it was either pro-Iowa data or con-Michigan data. The last time Michigan didn't play in a January game, they sent only 6,000 to the Alamo Bowl. I'm sure the Outback looked at that, at the fact that this Michigan team could be the first five-loss Wolverines team since 1984, and gave the nod to Iowa despite the fact that Michigan beat the Hawkeyes and had a higher poll and BCS ranking.
Is it more beneficial to switch to playoffs for D1 football? What is your revenue maximizing scenario?
Darren Rovell (2:44 PM)
Chris, I obviously get this question all the time. My initial answer is that only one company came up with a complete playoff plan promising big money -- it was a Swiss company a couple years ago -- and a couple months after the proposal they filed for bankruptcy. It's hard to look at the whole picture, but if fans have enough trouble getting to one game around this time, how are they going to get to three. We can't play these games in studios.
Tony (Wilmington, DE)
Despite FSU being in state, do you think Penn State will out draw FSU in the Orange Bowl
Darren Rovell (2:45 PM)
Yes, Tony. Secondary ticket data that I have seen suggests that more than 50 percent of those buying on the secondary market for this game are coming from Pennsylvania. They are hungry and haven't played in a game like this in a while.
John, Kensington, MD.
Does West Virginia travel well?
Darren Rovell (2:48 PM)
Well, they brought 40,000 to the Sugar Bowl in 1994. John, like anything it depends on the data that you look at. It depends on the year, the location, etc. I don't expect them to bring a huge crowd this year. One of the best travel teams, as you will see from my story, is Navy, believe it or not.
Why did Rutgers accept a bowl in Arizona? Us alumns were clamoring for a bowl and would have roadtripped to Charlotte or Jacksonville, but AZ is just way too far. Isn't it going to hurt attendance?
Darren Rovell (2:49 PM)
Mikey, Rutgers did sell 6,700 tickets to the game, which is respectable. But the school hasn't been to a game, as you well know, in 27 years. It can't really be picky. I like the move of giving free tickets to students and awarding travel stipends to them. Kudos to the Scarlet Knights for that.
In your opinion, who is the best traveling team and where do you Rank Texas among the hardcore traveling fans? Is the Rose Bowl really going to be a "home game" for USC? Texas fans will show up. Thanks
Darren Rovell (2:52 PM)
Texas is in my top 5, but when you look at these things you have to throw out travel to BCS games -- everyone sells BCS games. Home team for the national championship? My secondary ticket data (from Ticketsnow.com), which is the only way you can figure out besides allotments (which are sold out anyway), shows that Longhorns fans are purchasing 45 percent of the tickets from the brokers, while USC is purchasing 29 percent. So that's good for Texas fans.
Luke, San Antonio, TX
How are Michigan and Nebraska doing as far as tickets sales are concerned? Will we see tons of Maze and Blue and Red along the Riverwalk next week?
Darren Rovell (2:53 PM)
It will be a lopsided battle. Michigan has sold less than 6,000 and Nebraska is more than double that.
Matt (Charlottesville, VA)
When a team plays at what is technically a neutral site but is close to home, many say it's "practically a home game" (e.g. the Rose Bowl this year). In general, isn't this an uninformed statement since tickets are distributed evenly in these cases?
Darren Rovell (2:54 PM)
For the national championship it is because you can't get more than your allotment. For the Meineke Car Care Bowl it's not. North Carolina State has a home game in Charlotte, as they did last year. These past two years they've sold past their allotments and get tens of thousands more tickets. So it's almost like playing in Raleigh!
Darius (Owensboro, KY)
Darren, what is Louisville's reputation nationally? I've been to nearly every UofL bowl game since 1993 and it's been a sea of red at most of them. This year I probably personally know 100 people who bought Gator Bowl tickets, but not one of them bought them through the University. What are your thoughts?
Darren Rovell (2:56 PM)
Louisville's reputation both on and off the field (economically) has skyrocketed in recent years, but this year is not a highlight. I'm not sure if fans are just not going because Brian Brohm is out, or because as you say they are not buying them from the university, but the numbers aren't the greatest.
Bob (Boston, MA)
What schools travel well that you wouldn't really expect to travel well (e.g. Navy)?
Darren Rovell (2:59 PM)
Navy as I said before is unbelievable. You don't see them as a big power because their stadium only holds 32,000. A big winner this year is BYU because of the large mormon population in Vegas. What I've learned is that there are many perceptions out there as far as good and bad traveling teams and if you really look into the numbers for non-BCS bowl games, there's very little difference between taking an Michigan over a Wisconsin for the Capital One Bowl or vice versa.
Darren Rovell (3:01 PM)
Gotta pass off the baton. Thanks for all your questions. If you have more, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out my story on bowl team travel and my blog on ESPN Insider. Have fun watching!