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Perverse Incentives in College Football

So, suppose you were the University of Nevada playing Boise St. last Saturday...

Your 8-3 record has already locked up a bowl appearance regardless of your result against the conference leader. However, with a win, Boise St. would be 12-0 and poised to make a historic appearance in a BCS bowl game. The Western Athletic Conference (WAC) would therefore be poised to take home a $15 million paycheck, which is roughly $14 million more than it would take home if Boise St. lost and had to settle for playing in the designated WAC games: the ever prestigious Hawaii Bowl, the New Mexico Bowl, and the MPC Bowl.

Of course, that potential windfall would get shared among the 8 other members of the WAC resulting in a $1.5 million payment to, guess who, the University of Nevada.

So, suppose you were the University of Nevada playing Boise St. last Saturday...

Well, Nevada did their part to earn a share of prize by losing 38-7 to Boise St. Following the BCS selections next Sunday, we'll have to see if it was worth it.

P.S. Thanks go out to L.A. Times reporter Greg Johnson for posing this little dilemma.