LSU football isn’t going away anytime soon, budget problem or not

Nov 8, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; A general view outside Tiger Stadium before a game between the LSU Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 8, 2014; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; A general view outside Tiger Stadium before a game between the LSU Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports /

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards says LSU football could be in danger of being cancelled because of the state’s budget deficit.

Per a Sports Illustrated report, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has stated that some college sports – most namely LSU football – may have to be cancelled due to the state’s ongoing budget crisis. Edwards actually said these words:

"“Student athletes across the state would be ineligible to play next semester. I don’t say this to scare you. But I am going to be honest with you. If you are a student attending one of these universities, it means that you will receive a grade of incomplete, many students will not be able to graduate, and student-athletes across the state at those schools will be ineligible to play next semester. That means you can say farewell to college football next fall.”"

Hogwash. Pure, plain political nonsense and grandstanding, I say.

Before getting into the obvious financial questions raised by Edwards’ statement, the truth of what he’s saying has to be examined.

Say farewell to college football next fall?

At LSU…in the SEC…farewell to college football.

Is this guy getting public speaking tips from Donald Trump?

I’m not doubting that there is some sort of budget war going on in Louisiana (as there is in most states in an election year), I’m just saying that whatever financial woes the governor is trying to perpetuate are not going to affect students at state-run universities nor their revenue generating athletic programs.

He says it’s not a scare tactic. I say it’s nothing more than that.

This is a flash point, and he knows it. Threatening to shut down college football in the south is akin to threatening to take guns away from the NRA.

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We’ve seen government shut-downs before, on state and federal levels, and despite not being able to take a hike through a state or national park, or being able to conduct business in a state or federal office, the flow of college sports was never interrupted…not even for the water polo teams.

The Governor is pandering to a generation of students who already feel victimized and entitled, to work them into a frenzied panic in order to push his agenda…whatever that may be.

LSU football (or at any of the other state schools) isn’t going anywhere any time soon. This is big business, and the football program at LSU generates more revenue than practically every agency in the state combined.

Just looking at the figures alone causes the governor’s argument to not hold water.

In 2015, SEC schools received a record-breaking $31.2 million payout each from the conference (a total which is likely to increase this year if history holds true). That doesn’t include payouts from bowl games (LSU received $3 million for their appearance in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl), not to mention the revenue generated from ticket sales and season ticket licenses, approaching a total of $45 million.

And let’s not forget the money made by selling the jerseys, hats, mugs and everything else with the licensed LSU logos on them.

Per USA Today, LSU generated a whopping $133,679,256 in 2014 from their athletic department, including all the categories mentioned above, as well as donor contributions. $10 million of that total was donated to the school’s general fund.

Keep in mind, that’s just at LSU. There are also revenue streams coming in from the other state schools who play Division I sports such as Tulane, Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana at Monroe and others.

Now obviously, much of that money goes to expenses, scholarships and such, but I doubt very seriously that Mr. Edwards is going to really claim that revenue stream isn’t enough to keep the program(s) afloat through whatever financial crisis is happening.

Regardless of how the money is spent, you start throwing out numbers with nine digits after the dollar sign, and the public will have a hard time buying what you’re selling. There’s nothing like an election year (and newly elected officials) to bring out the worst in politics, and threatening higher education is certainly among the worst.

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Maybe they can ask head coach Les Miles to take a pay cut from his $4.3 million salary in thanks for the job he almost lost last year. Oh wait. Makes more sense to penalize the students and athletes.