Real Sports, the 31-time Sports Emmy Award winning HBO (TWX) show, is set to air a segment this evening (10p EST/PST) on guarantee games; exploring the fiscal benefits they provide for HBCU (historically black colleges and universities) athletic departments and the risks they pose to HBCU athletes. Guarantee games are athletic contests typically scheduled between large wealthy schools and smaller institutions lacking the same resources; with the bigger school ostensibly receiving an “easy win” (yes, Howard beat UNLV) in exchange for a large financial payout. The debate begins though as smaller, less physically gifted student-athletes are forced to compete the 5-star gladiators on the football field, inevitably leading to serious injury.
Howie Long-Short: Bowl Subdivision schools are going to pay out $150 million in “guarantee” games, during the 2017 CFB season. No one wants to see kids get hurt, but football revenues support entire athletic departments. Understand that if you end these games, you are ending the athletic careers of thousands of student athletes. If HBCU schools can drop down a level and still make ends meet, they should look to do so in the best interest of their student athletes.
Fan Marino: The SEC conference is the only P5 conference to play an 8-game conference schedule. Some will argue that it provides them with necessary scheduling flexibility (several teams have yearly non-conference, rivalry games that need to be accommodated), but Commissioner Mike Slive has readily admitted the strength of the conference influenced the decision. As a result, SEC teams often play late season “guarantee” games (i.e. November 18th: Alabama hosts Mercer, USC hosts Wofford, Auburn hosts Louisiana Monroe). The elimination of “guarantee games” would force the conference to either play a 9-game conference schedule or to schedule an extra P5 opponent. Either way, CFB fans would win.