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Ohio State, Alabama and 23 More of the Most Expensive College Football Programs

·9 min read
Jp Waldron/CSM
Jp Waldron/CSM

The college football season is halfway over and the homestretch is shaping up to be one for the ages, especially in high-drama conferences like the Big Ten. The best and biggest schools field teams that rake in tens of millions of dollars — and even hundreds of millions, in some cases — in revenue every season.

But it doesn’t come cheap.

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Read: The Top 5 Richest College Football Programs

Those same schools shell out eight-figure sums on everything from staff and stadiums to marketing and materials in order to make their enormous DI athletic programs chug along. But some schools spend much, much more than others.

In order to find the 25 most expensive college football programs, GOBankingRates used data from the Department of Education to learn about each program’s total expenses, revenues and operating expenses. The result is a list of some of the most popular — and richest — football teams in the NCAA.

Last updated: Oct. 22, 2021

chapin31 / Getty Images
chapin31 / Getty Images

Baylor University

  • Conference: Big 12

  • Total football program expenses: $35,428,721

  • Total football program revenues: $56,561,243

  • Football program operating expenses: $7,177,625

Currently ranked No. 3 in the Big 12, Baylor has been playing at McLane Stadium since 2014. Putting all its revenue to good use, the team’s income paid for some of the best and most modern digs in college football.

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sshepard / Getty Images
sshepard / Getty Images

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

  • Conference: ACC

  • Total football program expenses: $35,625,481

  • Total football program revenues: $50,292,457

  • Football program operating expenses: $5,372,588

Although Virginia Tech fans have come to expect their Hokies to compete for the ACC Championship, they’ve been let down over the last half-decade or so during the Jim Fuente era, which began in 2016. This will be the fifth year straight that the Hokies don’t win the Coastal Division.

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benedek / Getty Images
benedek / Getty Images

University of Southern California

  • Conference: Pac-12

  • Total football program expenses: $36,363,652

  • Total football program revenues: $53,380,160

  • Football program operating expenses: $10,351,768

In September, 39-year-old Donte Williams made history as the first African-American head coach of USC in the institution’s 140-plus year history.

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BSPollard / Getty Images
BSPollard / Getty Images

University of Florida

  • Conference: SEC

  • Total football program expenses: $37,611,096

  • Total football program revenues: $94,905,944

  • Football program operating expenses: $9,216,310

Despite the efforts of a hot, young quarterback, the Gators are not breaking many franchise records this year. A disappointing loss to their rivals at LSU all but ended any hope of Florida winning the Southeastern Conference East Division for the fourth year straight.

Wolterk / Getty Images
Wolterk / Getty Images

The University of Tennessee

  • Conference: SEC

  • Total football program expenses: $38,115,086

  • Total football program revenues: $91,615,408

  • Football program operating expenses: $3,684,486

With 130 seasons under their combined belts, the Volunteers have one of the winningest cumulative records in NCAA football. More recently, the team has been in the news for all the wrong reasons thanks to boorish fan behavior that earned the school a quarter-million dollar fine after a loss to Ole Miss.

wellesenterprises / Getty Images
wellesenterprises / Getty Images

University of Washington

  • Conference: Pac-12

  • Total football program expenses: $38,441,025

  • Total football program revenues: $91,704,081

  • Football program operating expenses: $11,067,749

A recent loss to UCLA highlighted the roster-wide woes that have been plaguing the Huskies all season long. Before the season started, Washington was expected to compete for a Pac-12 title — now the squad will be lucky to close out the season with a .500 record.

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dszc / Getty Images
dszc / Getty Images

The University of Texas at Austin

  • Conference: Big 12

  • Total football program expenses: $39,503,076

  • Total football program revenues: $144,426,105

  • Football program operating expenses: $1,666,844

Although the Longhorns are no strangers to conference titles and national titles alike, they’re currently navigating a patch of rocky road. A recent loss to rival Oklahoma State set UT Austin back in the rankings and revealed several vulnerabilities in the team’s roster.

BSPollard / Getty Images
BSPollard / Getty Images

University of Mississippi

  • Conference: SEC

  • Total football program expenses: $40,408,247

  • Total football program revenues: $53,015,898

  • Football program operating expenses: $5,993,421

Currently ranked No. 2 in the SEC West, Ole Miss proved its prowess with a big win over Tennessee. They were rewarded by being pelted with trash and dangerous projectiles hurled by unruly Tennessee fans, who have become the scourge of the league.

Travel_with_me / Shutterstock.com
Travel_with_me / Shutterstock.com

Texas A&M University

  • Conference: SEC

  • Total football program expenses: $40,626,375

  • Total football program revenues: $78,052,665

  • Football program operating expenses: $6,664,794

The Aggies currently have the wind at their backs, as Texas A&M’s squad recently broke into the top 20 of the AP poll rankings with a win over Missouri.

Shutterstock.com
Shutterstock.com

Texas Christian University

  • Conference: Big 12

  • Total football program expenses: $41,053,901

  • Total football program revenues: $61,245,684

  • Football program operating expenses: $5,735,191

TCU is off to a middling start, but a .500 record doesn’t detract from the fact that the school has one of the greatest team names in football — the Horned Frogs.

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Roberto Michel / Getty Images
Roberto Michel / Getty Images

Louisiana State University

  • Conference: SEC

  • Total football program expenses: $41,403,966

  • Total football program revenues: $95,063,116

  • Football program operating expenses: $3,796,369

As the injuries, losses, and disappointments continue to pile up for LSU, the tenure of head coach Ed Orgeron is probably coming to an end. There’s widespread talk that legendary Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher is in the running for his job.

Jacob Kupferman/CSM
Jacob Kupferman/CSM

University of Oklahoma

  • Conference: Big 12

  • Total football program expenses: $41,455,783

  • Total football program revenues: $101,881,969

  • Football program operating expenses: $11,073,604

The Sooners are riding high after an untested Caleb Williams made his debut with a resounding victory over the Horned Frogs. Oklahoma is currently ranked No. 4.

Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock.com
Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock.com

University of Iowa

  • Conference: Big Ten

  • Total football program expenses: $41,688,056

  • Total football program revenues: $81,421,937

  • Football program operating expenses: $5,067,556

One of the most storied teams in football, the Hawkeyes are currently ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten West — despite their ugly recent loss to Iowa.

Barbara Kalbfleisch / Shutterstock.com
Barbara Kalbfleisch / Shutterstock.com

University of Arkansas

  • Conference: SEC

  • Total football program expenses: $43,552,590

  • Total football program revenues: $70,283,699

  • Football program operating expenses: $7,017,521

Ranked No. 7 in the SEC West, Arkansas lost its Homecoming game to Auburn in front of 75,000 disappointed fans — but the Razorbacks believe that a run down the homestretch is not only possible, but likely.

ehrlif / Getty Images
ehrlif / Getty Images

Michigan State University

  • Conference: Big Ten

  • Total football program expenses: $43,987,682

  • Total football program revenues: $68,942,427

  • Football program operating expenses: $8,493,091

Big Ten powerhouse Michigan State is currently locked in one of the most exciting races in all of sports. Midway through the season, the Spartans join conference rivals Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan as among the best teams not only in the Big Ten, but in all of college football.

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pabradyphoto / Getty Images
pabradyphoto / Getty Images

University of Michigan

  • Conference: Big Ten

  • Total football program expenses: $44,684,585

  • Total football program revenues: $125,773,306

  • Football program operating expenses: $6,534,308

At the tippy-top of the wildly exciting Big Ten is the University of Michigan. The mighty Spartans are 7-0 on the season — 4-0 in the conference.

Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com
Rob Hainer / Shutterstock.com

Auburn University

  • Conference: SEC

  • Total football program expenses: $45,953,519

  • Total football program revenues: $97,665,511

  • Football program operating expenses: $5,530,594

Ranked No. 3 in the SEC West, Auburn is 5-2 midway through the season. The Tigers are behind only Ole Miss and Alabama in their division.

Wolterk / Getty Images
Wolterk / Getty Images

University of Georgia

  • Conference: SEC

  • Total football program expenses: $48,501,193

  • Total football program revenues: $134,463,859

  • Football program operating expenses: $8,445,460

The Bulldogs are the big dogs of the SEC East, where the University of Georgia is ranked No. 1. The real buzz around the team, however, is the increasing likelihood that it will soon count Arch Manning — the highly touted high school star and nephew of Peyton and Eli — as one of their own.

Barbara Kalbfleisch / Shutterstock.com
Barbara Kalbfleisch / Shutterstock.com

University of Miami

  • Conference: ACC

  • Total football program expenses: $48,945,543

  • Total football program revenues: $59,453,410

  • Football program operating expenses: $3,099,573

Way back at No. 6 in the ACC Coastal is the University of Miami. Four losses in six games have put coach Manny Diaz’s job in jeopardy — and it’s looking more and more likely that LSU’s Ed Orgeron might wind up replacing him.

aimintang / Getty Images/iStockphoto
aimintang / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Pennsylvania State University

  • Conference: Big Ten

  • Total football program expenses: $50,608,202

  • Total football program revenues: $101,678,317

  • Football program operating expenses: $10,251,651

Despite the blemish of one loss on their record, the Nittany Lions are one of the teams locked in the drama unfolding at the top of the Big Ten East. Penn State is currently ranked No. 4 behind Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State.

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Chuck W Walker / Shutterstock.com
Chuck W Walker / Shutterstock.com

University of Notre Dame

  • Conference: Independent

  • Total football program expenses: $51,387,021

  • Total football program revenues: $97,944,469

  • Football program operating expenses: $11,375,746

With a record of 5-1, the Fighting Irish are No. 1 among the independent schools. Coach Brian Kelly recently earned his 106th win, passing the legendary Knute Rockne.

aceshot / Getty Images
aceshot / Getty Images

Ohio State University

  • Conference: Big Ten

  • Total football program expenses: $52,616,230

  • Total football program revenues: $115,510,031

  • Football program operating expenses: $7,970,875

Ohio State has five wins and one loss, same as Penn State, but the Buckeyes’ superior conference record puts them ahead of the Nittany Lions in the No. 3 spot of the most exciting division in college football — the Big Ten East.

JASON TENCH / Shutterstock.com
JASON TENCH / Shutterstock.com

Clemson University

  • Conference: ACC

  • Total football program expenses: $55,912,162

  • Total football program revenues: $63,120,884

  • Football program operating expenses: $12,180,407

No. 3 in the ACC Atlantic, Clemson’s defense has been the backbone of the Tigers squad this year. Heading into the back end of the season, Clemson must find a way past red-hot Pitt if it plans on making a homestretch run.

Peter Pajor / Flickr.com
Peter Pajor / Flickr.com

The University of Alabama

  • Conference: SEC

  • Total football program expenses: $58,508,853

  • Total football program revenues: $110,110,211

  • Football program operating expenses: $9,962,449

With a record of 6-1, the Crimson Tide are perched atop the SEC West. Alabama just moved up to the No. 3 spot in the ESPN college football power rankings.

C5Media / Getty Images
C5Media / Getty Images

Florida State University

  • Conference: ACC

  • Total football program expenses: $67,752,719

  • Total football program revenues: $71,102,595

  • Football program operating expenses: $5,323,897

The most expensive program in football, all those big dollars have bought the Noles a record of only 4-2 this year. They’re heading into the second half of the season square in the middle of the ACC Atlantic pack.

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Methodology: For this piece, GOBankingRates looked at the most recent data from the Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics Data Analysis to find the 25 most expensive college football programs. GOBankingRates took the top 25 schools in terms of (1) total expenses for the football program. For the 25 qualifying schools GOBankingRates also found (2) total football revenues; and (3) football operating expenses. All data were from the 2019 fiscal year which is the most up-to-date. All data was collected and is up to date as of Sept. 23, 2021.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Ohio State, Alabama and 23 More of the Most Expensive College Football Programs