The Minnesota Gophers football team is in Tempe, Ariz., getting ready to take on the Iowa State Cyclones in Thursday's Insight Bowl. The Insight isn't considered a major college bowl game, but it is worth a lot, financially and otherwise, to the U of M football team.
So exactly how much is a bowl appearance worth to the Gopher football team? Well, first the U of M receives a sizeable payment just to take part.
"We are allotted $1.35 million for our participation in the Insight Bowl," said Liz Eull, senior associate athletics director at the U of M.
Eull said, in the end, almost all of that money will be used for travel expenses.
"The actual transportation to get people down there [and] the hotel rooms themselves" she said. "The food, meals or per diem that we provide for people when they're down there and ground transportation."
This is the Gophers' third trip to Tempe, Ariz., for the Insight bowl in the last four years. They're still looking for their first win, but they haven't lost financially at least. Eull said every year the trip has come in under budget.
This year they had to make a few adjustments to hit that budget mark. Some, who would normally attend, like Eull herself, ended up staying home.
And 40 others who usually fly with the team on a charter plane, like U of M athletics director Joel Maturi, took a separate commercial flight to Arizona. That's because the team rented out a smaller plane to save money.
The Gophers essentially break even for their time at the Insight Bowl. However, in a few months the University of Minnesota will receive another check from the Big 10.
That comes from a pool of money the Big 10 shares evenly with its 11 schools, once the bowl season is over and all the TV and ticket revenues have been counted up.
This year each share is estimated to be $1.9 million. That amounts to nearly 2 percent of the U of M's yearly athletics budget of $74 million. The U hopes to get another financial boost from its bowl appearance, in the form of fans who are inspired to renew season tickets.
"Which will take place in mid to late January, basically leveraging that exposure to keep in peoples' minds Gopher football," Euall said.
Eull sees one more advantage to the Gopher's appearance in the Insight Bowl, it helps the U attract recruits to the team.
Mike Grant, coach of the Eden Prairie High School football team, agrees. "It's big to be able to put that on the letterhead that they were in this bowl and that bowl, and how many years they've been in a bowl," Grant said. "It all is about achievement. When these recruits are looking at selecting Minnesota, I think it makes a difference."
Grant said even though the Insight isn't considered one of the top bowl invites, any bowl appearance is an exciting prospect for a young football player. He should know, his son Ryan Grant is Gopher linebacker.
Neither Ryan nor his teammates have ever faced Iowa State. The last time the Gophers met the Cyclones on the field was 1997. The two have played 25 times in the last 115 years, and historically the Gophers have dominated the match up winning 22 of those games.
The last time Iowa State beat the U of M was in 1898. This season, both teams have won six games and lost six.