Monday, July 19, 2010

Chick-Fil-A & Atlanta In 2011? Fuhgeddabout it.

I have to wonder if Sean Callahan had a few too many mai-tai's on his honeymoon to Maui. His report via Twitter that Nebraska would play South Carolina in Atlanta in 2011 just didn't seem to add up. Not that I think it's a bad matchup in general; I'm all in favor of scheduling up rather than down. But I also recognize the economics driving football today; Nebraska already has an away game scheduled at Wyoming next season. As much I like the idea of playing a name foe, I just don't see how Nebraska can afford to only play 6 home games in 2011. I haven't seen any recent estimates, but I have to figure that Nebraska nets nearly $4 million from a home football game, even with some of the large guarentees they have to pay opponents to come to Lincoln.  I just don't see the payout from the Chick-Fil-A even coming close to half of that.  The Georgia Dome only holds 71,228 fans, and while television money is big, I don't think that Nebraska's share will be enough to make it financially worthwhile.

Some suggest that this game makes no sense since Nebraska might have a new starting quarterback next season. Personally, I think that's an opinion that makes no sense. Injuries and competition can always result in a new quarterback having to start. In fact, while optimally you'd start a new quarterback at home against Schmuckhead State...that's not always possible. But a neutral site game isn't a bad option...especially with the number of Husker fans who'll likely travel to a game on Labor Day weekend. And besides...what's the worst thing that could happen? Lose? One loss teams frequently work their way back into the national title hunt, and if you are going to lose a game, it's better to lose early than later in the season. Competition makes you better, and you learn more about your team playing a quality opponent than against a Schmuckhead.
Nebraska also gains from the national exposure of this game. Husker fans in exile get a chance to see their team closer to home, and fans in SEC country get to see just how well Nebraska fans support their team. And yes, potential Huskers get a chance to see the team as well. Not to mention that Bo Pelini and his staff can tell recruits that Nebraska will play anybody anywhere to alleviate concerns about playing farther away from home.

Unless Chick-Fil-A and ESPN can up the ante on this game, I don't see this game happening. But if the organizers of this game can make the money work for this game, it's a game worth pursuing.

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