Money games — Idaho paid $2.35 million for three money games
Meet Mike VI, a 450-pound Bengal tiger and the mascot of the Louisiana State football team. On Saturday evenings in the fall he can be found caged up near the opposing tunnel entrance to the field.
Though, Mike VI might be the least terrifying thing about Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., when the Idaho Vandals travel there Saturday, it will instead be the No. 2 college football team in the country standing on the opposite sideline.
Idaho will be projected as anything but favorites Saturday, although no matter the result, Idaho will get what it came for — the check.
LSU is paying the University of Idaho $925,000 to come to Tiger Stadium.
“In the perfect world you’d like to play one of these games. It’s a very good thing, for a number of reasons,” coach Robb Akey “The competition level, number one … the experience of being there. Our conference is not going to be that same caliber.”
The benefit for the opposition, LSU in this case, is that Idaho is a likely win. In fact, LSU is a 42-point favorite.
In two weeks Idaho will receive an $800,000 payout from North Carolina to play a game in Chapel Hill. Altogether, including another road game at BYU, Idaho will receive $2.35 million in payouts in 2012 for a total of three “guarantee” games.
This is the second season in a row in which Idaho will play two teams from a BCS conference and BYU. In the three seasons prior Idaho only scheduled one such game. Last season Idaho received about $2.08 million for those games. In the three years prior that number didn’t exceed $1 million.
“The way some things have worked with the scheduling we have a couple more of them in the last couple of years, it is what it is,” Akey said.
Last year the Vandals played five out of conference games due to the WAC having just eight teams. This year the WAC only has seven teams, meaning Idaho had to fill six out of conference slots. Idaho has chosen to fill those extra slots with more “guarantee” games.
“The thing that is tough if you are playing too many of these games it can be tough physically and mentally on your ability to go compete for the WAC conference championship,” Akey said. “It is what it is and we’re anxious to go play this week. We’re going to make it be a good thing.”
In what he’d like to ultimately see, Akey said he prefers the typical A-B-C method of scheduling.
“You look for a game where you’re supposed to be the upper team. We had one of those and we screwed it up, unfortunately. I’d like the other ones to be comparable to our conference … that has been the ultimate goal,” he said.
With the ultimate goal of winning that final WAC football championship, the fact is that the Vandals won’t play their first conference game of the season until game No. 6 when the Vandals could conceivably be winless.
“It depends on how the games are being played, this last game against BG we came back as a team. We’ve been building up from each game,” senior wide receiver Justin Veltung said. “It benefits us in the long run … we get to play those great games before the WAC. It’s just going to make us that much more prepared.”
Sean Kramer can be reached at email@example.com