Cincinnati’s Built-In Disadvantage

    • In the first College Football Playoff Top 25 of the year, the Selection Committee didn’t award Cincinnati a theoretical semifinal bid -- it ranked the Bearcats sixth.
    • The Bearcats’ disadvantage isn’t just their lack of Power 5 status; their financial resources don’t come close to the vast majority of those programs.

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In the first College Football Playoff Top 25 of the year, the Selection Committee didn’t award Cincinnati a theoretical semifinal bid — it ranked the Bearcats sixth.

Selection Committee Chair Gary Barta blamed the team’s strength of schedule, even though its undefeated resume includes a top-10 win at Notre Dame — plus, the AP ranked them No. 2 this week.

The Bearcats’ disadvantage isn’t just their lack of Power 5 status; their financial resources don’t come close to the vast majority of those programs. Comparing them with the schools who made the CFP’s first cut reveals an even wider gap. 

  • Cincinnati made $81.7 million in total revenue in 2019-20 the top Group of 5 school, per the USA Today database. Alabama, Georgia, and Michigan State all made more than $130 million, and Oregon topped the list at $391.8 million.
  • In 2019-20, the Bearcats only received about $6.2 million in conference distributions, according to tax filings. The Power 5 schools in the CFP received between about $33-55 million.
  • The school paid football coach Luke Fickell about $3.4 million in 2019-20 — ranking 45th among coaches.

Joining the Big 12 in 2024 will solve these problems. They’ll gain access to not only the Power 5 badge, but also the $36-40 million the conference could distribute.

Cincinnati could move up in the polls over the next month. But the Bearcats can’t change their remaining schedule. Even if they win out, their best chance at the Playoff is losses by the Power 5 teams ahead of them.