Ron Wellman Column: Music City Bowl
Ron Wellman

Jan. 17, 2012

Many of our fans have commented about what a great time they had while following the Demon Deacons to Nashville for the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. Nashville was an outstanding destination for Wake Forest this year. It was close enough to drive, the timing allowed our fans as well as our players and coaches to spend Christmas Day at home , and it paired the Deacons with a very good SEC opponent in Mississippi State. Nashville was an outstanding host and all Demon Deacon fans who traveled to the game had a great time.

Much goes into the planning and execution of a successful bowl trip. Our administrative staff put together a team effort that was responsible for all of the logistics of moving the team to Nashville and assuring a smooth visit leading up to the Dec. 30 game.

During the bowl season, many ask about the bowl logistics and finances. This is a good time to review those matters with you. The Atlantic Coast Conference has agreements in place to provide a team to eight different bowl games. A ninth bowl, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, has a working agreement with the Pac-12 and Army but can also invite an ACC team if either the Pac-12 or Army fails to qualify. Our bowl partners select in a predetermined order starting with the Discover Orange Bowl taking the ACC Champion. After the Discover Orange Bowl, other BCS bowls (Tostitos Fiesta, Allstate Sugar, and the Rose Bowl) have the opportunity to select an ACC team. The bowls then select ACC teams in the following order:

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Champs Sports Bowl
Hyundai Sun Bowl
Belk Bowl
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Advocare V100 Independence Bowl
Military Bowl
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Each bowl has the latitude to chose a team that has one less ACC win than the next logical team to select (i.e. a bowl could select a 4-4 team rather than a 5-3 team).

When the media quotes each bowl's payout , it is actually citing the amount of money that is paid to the conference and not what is given to each team. With the ACC's revenue sharing plan, each school receives a specific amount of money for its expenses, regardless of the bowl payout. The amount a member receives for expenses is dependent on the date and location of the bowl and the distance a team has to travel to the bowl site. As an example, Wake Forest received $50,000 less for traveling to Nashville than we would have if we had been invited to the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl in Shreveport.

The ACC allots $1.7 million in expenses for each team traveling to a BCS bowl (Orange, Sugar, Rose, Fiesta or the national championship game). For the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, Wake Forest received $1.075 million for expenses.

Our philosophy when planning and budgeting for a bowl trip is two-fold: we want the players and coaches to enjoy the rewards of a fine season while, from an administrative standpoint, our goal is not to lose money on the trip.

While $1.075 million is an excellent guarantee, there are a number of costs built into attending a bowl game. Among those expenses are transporting the team and staff to the bowl site (this year we had two charter flights), ground transportation while at the bowl, lodging and food costs for the team and staff. These same expenses would be applicable to transporting the band, cheerleaders and dance team. Those are the most obvious costs. There are also many hidden costs which include housing the team in Winston-Salem after the end of the semester and after the dorms have officially closed. There are also meal costs for that time period. Each student-athlete is allowed to be reimbursed for a trip home for the holidays which is an additional cost. There are also added security costs both on campus and at the bowl site.

Once at the bowl site, the bowl will provide a specific number of tickets to special events, such as luncheons or dinners. Often times, the number of tickets provided is fewer than the desired number of participants which requires the school to purchase additional tickets.

The greatest expense that any school faces is tickets. Each bowl has a different number of tickets allotted to the participating teams. The school pays for all of the tickets and then attempts to recoup the ticket costs by selling the tickets to their fans. When a school sells fewer than its allotment, that becomes an additional expense. Wake Forest's ticket requirement was 10,000 for the Music City Bowl. If a team sells 6,000 of its ticket allotment, the ACC will assist in the financial burden of any unsold tickets above that.

Through the efforts of our administrative team and the support and understanding of our goals by our coaching staff, we were able to meet our goals of breaking even financially and providing a great bowl experience to our players and coaches. While we will not show much, if any, financial profit from the bowl game, the intangibles in publicity and additional practice time will be significant. The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl was viewed by 4.21 million people in over 3 million homes throughout the United States. The coaching staff was able to give additional practice time to some of the younger players that will help form the nucleus of future Wake Forest football teams. And the prestige of playing in a bowl game in front of a national audience will also pay dividends that are not necessarily measured in dollars and cents.

We look forward to our next bowl experience in 2012!

Go Deacs!

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