“If this was a prize fight, they’d call it off.” That’s what announcer Brent Musburger said Monday night when it became clear Notre Dame was getting trounced by Alabama as the two storied teams squared off in the national collegiate football championship.
What’s at stake for these schools was a lot more than glory. Alabama, which crushed Notre Dame by a score of 42 to 14, walks away with $18 million; the ”Fighting Irish” at least limp home with the same amount. It took about 30 years for top college teams to get those big TV advertising dollars that fill the coffers of their schools. Operating under the umbrella of the National Collegiate Athletic Association – technically a non-profit association of more than 1,280 institutions, conferences and organizations – college football has evolved into a massive enterprise generating billions in annual television revenues, merchandising, jobs and economic activity, according to Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist and professor at Smith College.