The Wildcats have been outscored 76 to 24 in the first two games of the season, and had the spread been right in either game, it would be much worse. But aside from getting the big-game experience that FCS schools can’t quite produce, why do schools like ACU play these lopsided games?
$650,000 is why.
Before each of the games, ACU had already been promised $325,000 from New Mexico and another $325,000 from Colorado State. In fact, according to a USA Today Sports, ACU’s payout is just a fraction of the $150 million that is to be paid in “guarantee games” throughout college football this season.
The Wildcats’ early season matchups against FBS teams started back in 2013 with a late-season 34-29 loss to New Mexico State. ACU then opened the next season with a one-point loss to Georgia Southern in the Georgia Dome. However, the payouts for UNM and CSU doubled the combined total of those 2013 and 2014 games. In fact, since 2013 the football program has grossed $1.25 million in “guarantee games,” and that doesn’t include the totals from matchups with Fresno State in 2015 and Air Force in 2016. Those totals were not disclosed at this time.
But this is just a start. The Wildcats also have matchups slated against Baylor (2018), Mississippi State (2019), North Texas (2019), Texas A&M (2020), SMU (2021) and Texas Tech (2024, 2026). Each of those teams will likely pay more than the $325,000 total.
Aside from the huge payouts, it’s games like these that help get a small, Church of Christ affiliated private school in West Texas on the map. Director of athletics Lee De Leon said the national recognition of the university has been a focal point for him, as he has continued what former director of athletics Jared Mosley helped start before him.
“The difference now as opposed to two-almost-three years ago is people know what we’re doing,” De Leon said. “I think we’ve done a good job of celebrating our success and promoting ourselves nationally.”
Few people knew of Howard University before its 43-40 upset of UNLV, and Liberty University put its name in the national news after a 48-45 victory over Baylor in week one of this season. ACU will have its fair share of opportunities over the next several years to pull of a big upset, but at the end of the day, each of the games’ payouts and recognition will greatly help the Department of Athletics and the university in general.