Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett
West Virginia will pay UNLV $740,000 to play in Morgantown in 2010, Jack Bogaczyk writes in the Charleston Daily Mail.
That's well above the guarantee that the Mountaineers usually offer to visiting teams, which normally falls in the $350,000 range. But it points out the difficulty schools are having in filling out their nonconference schedules, and the particular challenges facing Big East teams.
As Bogaczyk writes, West Virginia needs seven home games to make its budget. Each home game represents about a $2 million payday for the school. Every major team wants nonconference home games, though, and so the price tags are going up and up.
"Some of the non-Bowl Championship Series conference schools - see Mountain West, Conference USA, MAC - are asking for much larger guarantees, too ... and they're getting them from the increasingly rich Southeastern Conference.
For example, it wasn't long ago that Ohio University was interested in talking with WVU ... but the talk supposedly started in the $750,000-800,000 range. Those talks ended quickly.
West Virginia, with 60,000-seat Mountaineer Field, can't afford to play with the same kind of money as teams do in the SEC (and Big Ten), where stadiums of more than 85,000 seats (and $800,000 guarantees) have become the norm."
The SEC is flush with cash and can afford those huge guarantees. The Big East not only isn't as rich, but its teams need to find five nonconference games every year because of the eight-team league format. That brings up another reason why adding a ninth member -- or at the very least finding permanent scheduling partners -- could be beneficial to the Big East.