What had been reported as likely a few months ago became official on Friday afternoon, the University of South Dakota football team will indeed play Oregon — yes, Pac-12 Oregon — on Aug. 30, 2014.
The Coyotes, who won a 1-5 record in their previous 6 FBS “guarantee” games, will receive a check for $525,000 to make the trip to Eugene. USD has played the likes of Central Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Air Force and Northwestern, but Oregon, as you can imagine, is a completely different animal.
The Ducks were 12-1 last season and beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl. Oregon were ranked No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll, and eventually lost its head coach Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL.
But when you’re talking about guarantee games, yes, it’s mostly about the money.
The $525,000 payday USD will receive is by far the highest it’s ever gotten for an FBS game. Athletic director David Herbster said the Sept. 7 game at Kansas will net the Coyote athletic department between $420,000-$425,000, which was about the same USD received for the Minnesota game in 2010.
Herbster also said USD and Oregon officials came together on the contract amount, one side wanted more, and the other was looking at less (you can guess which side was which). Ultimately, though, there was the risk that moving on from the Oregon conversation would lead the Coyotes down the path of fewer options for an FBS game.
Plus, as you may have read over the past month, such FBS conferences are reluctant to schedule FCS games — the Big Ten being the most notable. The Pac-12, clearly, has no such qualms, as evidenced by Oregon’s announcement Friday that it will also play UC Davis in 2016 and Southern Utah in 2017 (both Big Sky Conference members).
Where USD is concerned, though, the exposure from such a game like the one in Eugene is pretty immense. The Coyotes aren’t going to win the game and aren’t likely to keep the thing within 50 points, but the financial gain can be worth the experience. A check for $525,000 can pay a lot of bills.