Why Rutgers vs. Delaware is a risk on the ground, but a smart financial decision


Rutgers may get their money’s worth from Delaware this weekend, but the game is already a clear financial winner.

The Scarlet Knights will pay the FCS-level Blue Hens $ 350,000 for Saturday’s non-conference game at SHI Stadium in Piscataway. That’s a good deal compared to Rutgers’ recent and future one-off buy games against FBS and Group of Five indie programs.

Consider: Rutgers paid State of Texas and UMass a total of $ 2.5 million for the opening games of seasons 2018 and 19, respectively – $ 1.3 million to UMass and $ 1.2 million dollars to the state of Texas. The Scarlet Knights also paid Liberty $ 1 million for a 2019 game, gave Buffalo $ 900,000 for their infamous loss to the Bulls in 2018, and are expected to pay Ohio $ 850,000 for a 2023 game. .

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The value of playing in Delaware is evident in the context of NJ Advance Media’s report on Rutgers’ real-time earnings from the season opener win over Temple. The Scarlet Knights paid the Owls just $ 175,000 on a four-game home and home contract and made a profit of $ 1.4 per game day. Now imagine what that profit would have been if Temple had received a seven-figure payment?

The Big Ten’s short-lived ban on scheduling FCS opponents from 2015 to 2017 forced Rutgers to book matches at market prices. But the conference has since relaxed that rule, and schools can now book an FCS match each year if they all agree. And they may soon do so to maintain the industry standard of seven home games for department budget reasons.

If the much-vaunted alliance and planning pact between the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 comes to fruition, as has been reported, each member of the three leagues will have five home games – four championship games and one trip on the alliance road – locked. every fall. That would mean Big Ten Schools would have to buy two home games each fall without being able to offer a second leg, which will likely allow non-Power Five schools to continue to charge the best price.

However, not all FCS opponents are the same.

Rutgers rolls the dice a bit against Delaware, who are 2-0 this year and reached the NCAA Spring Playoff semifinals. The Scarlet Knights are also likely to reschedule their canceled 2020 game against the Monmouth State program, which has won back-to-back titles in the Deep South and has made the FCS playoffs three of the past four seasons. These games have evoked and will evoke memories of past losses to Villanova and New Hampshire in Greg Schiano’s first term as head coach.

The Scarlet Knights again played Villanova under Schiano after the 2004 loss to New Hampshire. But they quickly moved on to the exclusive programming of FCS matches against MEAC and SWAC, two leagues traditionally among the weakest in college football’s Second Division. Rutgers continued this approach under former coaches Chris Ash and Kyle Flood before Ash booked the Delaware and Monmouth games in 2018.

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James Kratch can be contacted at [email protected].

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