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How much does your college football team pay for a win? It’s all relative really, and no one actually gives much of a crap about how much their school is paying for wins if 1) the school can afford it and 2) they’re winning. This isn’t professional sports. Schools can do whatever the hell they want with their money (except give it to players, that’s immoral…or something).
There is something to be said, admired even, for a program’s financial efficiency. And, even more important, plenty to be mocked in terms of schools paying a whole lot simply to disgrace themselves week after week, essentially spending exorbitant amounts of money for the world’s shittiest marketing campaign.
Forbes ranked the most and least financially efficient teams in college football using the following criteria.
To determine which teams do the most with the money they spend, we used expense figures as reported to the Department of Education for the three seasons from 2010-11 through 2012-13. We then compared those spending figures to each team’s win total over the last three seasons, excluding this year’s bowl games. Team win totals were also adjusted to represent a 12-game season to prevent bowl games and conference championships from skewing the numbers.
Of course, most or least financially efficient doesn’t simply mean “best” or “worst.” As Forbes points out, Alabama has been the nation’s top program over the last few years, but they’ve spent a whole lot of money to do it, and even more so now that Saban used his black devil magic to steal even more gold from the poor citizens of Alabama, who all agree it was totally worth it (it was).
Here is how Forbes ranks the top and bottom five financially efficient programs.
5 Most Financially Efficient College Football Teams
1. Cincinnati Bearcats
Cost per win: $1,463,280
Three-year football expenses: $40.2 million
Head coach: Tommy Tuberville
The Bearcats have ended Kansas State’s two-year reign as college football’s most cost efficient team. Only 12 teams have won more games than Cincinnati over the last three seasons; only four college football teams spent less than the Bearcats.
2. Kansas State Wildcats
Cost per win: $1,529,494
Three-year football expenses: $40.6 million
Conference: Big 12
Head coach: Bill Snyder
More spending – the Wildcats’ expenses rose by $3 million, or nearly 25%, in 2012-13 – and a seven-win season this year knocked Kansas State out of the top spot on our list. Despite the rising costs, K-State is still the eighth-lowest spender in college football.
3. Stanford Cardinal
Cost per win: $1,677,167
Three-year football expenses: $51.3 million
Head coach: David Shaw
The Cardinal have long held a spot on our list of the best teams for the money, a particularly impressive feat because, as a private school, Stanford’s football scholarship costs are higher than most programs. Only Alabama has won more games than Stanford over the last three seasons, but that success cost the Crimson Tide more than double what Stanford has spent.
4. Baylor Bears
Cost per win: $1,892,641
Three-year football expenses: $52 million
Conference: Big 12
Head coach: Art Briles
Like Kansas State, Baylor’s expenses have increased in recent seasons. The Bears went from spending less than $15 million in 2010-11 to more than $20 million just two seasons later. Fans couldn’t care less. Baylor’s 2013 season is arguably the best in the school’s history; the Bears secured their first outright conference title in over three decades and secured a trip to the Fiesta Bowl, Baylor’s first ever BCS bowl.
5. Oregon Ducks
Cost per win: $1,895,105
Three-year football expenses: $59.5 million
Head coach: Mark Helfrich
The Ducks are tied with Stanford (and Florida State) for the second-most wins in college football over the last three seasons, and they are the only team on our list to also appear in the ranks of college football’s most valuable teams, worth $64 million this year.
5 Least Financially Efficient College Football Teams
1. Kansas Jayhawks
Cost per win: $8,008,689
Three-year football expenses: $48.1 million
Conference: Big 12
Head coach: Charlie Weis
The Jayhawks are once again college football’s worst team for the money. They are the very bottom of the barrel on the field, winning just six games over the last three seasons, while spending nearly as much as Baylor and Stanford. Head coach Charlie Weis is expected to return in 2014, but he’s got to be on thin ice at this point.
2. Colorado Buffaloes
Cost per win: $6,464,205
Three-year football expenses: $50.3 million
Head coach: Mike MacIntyre
Colorado may have won just four games this season, but that’s an improvement over the four wins the Buffaloes amassed across the two previous seasons.
3. California Golden Bears
Cost per win: $5,578,191
Three-year football expenses: $59.7 million
Head coach: Sonny Dykes
The team was forced to fire longtime coach Jeff Tedford after going 3-9 in 2012, but things only got worse this season as the Golden Bears were only able to defeat Portland State. Much like Colorado, Cal spends like a typical Pac-12 team but has not looked like one on the field.
4. Kentucky Wildcats
Cost per win: $5,113,512
Three-year football expenses: $46 million
Head coach: Mark Stoops
Kentucky really can’t be blamed for overspending. The Wildcats are well under the average expenses for a college football team, and Mississippi State is the only SEC program with lower costs. But even the Bulldogs have managed to break even on the field; the best Kentucky has done in the last three years is a 5-7 record in 2011.
5. Auburn Tigers
Cost per win: $4,989,132
Three-year football expenses: $108.7 million
Head coach: Gus Malzahn
Only Alabama, at $110 million, has spent more than the Tigers over the last three seasons. Expenses were especially high this year thanks to Gene Chizik’s buyout, which will cost the team $7.5 million over three years. Even then, Auburn wouldn’t be on this list if it had just one more victory over the last three seasons, thanks in large part to its 12-1 run to the BCS National Championship this season.