Old Dominion University (ODU) has reportedly turned down a boatload of money from ESPN and Alabama to play the Crimson Tide in football. According to The Virginian-Pilot, the university balked at a $1.3 million offer to travel to Tuscaloosa during the 2015 season.
ODU athletic director Wood Selig has stated that the school already has a full slate for that season, and that such a young program may not benefit from playing a national powerhouse.
“We’ve already got 12 games,” Selig said. “I’d certainly touch base with (head coach) Bobby Wilderon this, but I don’t think playing a game against Alabama would be an advisable move given the infancy of our program.”
While power conference schools often pay smaller programs to pad their schedules, Selig explained that it’s also commonplace for ESPN to broker deals.
“ESPN is one of the biggest brokers of games,” Selig said. “They are constantly trying to move people around in order to set up attractive games to broadcast.
“If they know you’ve got an open week or can handle another game, sometimes they will contact you. They often say, if you do that, we’ll consider you down the line for some type of television broadcast or help you get a home and home with a certain school.”
It’s admirable that Selig would honor previous agreements for the 2015 season, but also surprising that he is reticent to face larger programs. Upstarts may usually get pasted in the games, but every once in a while (App St./Michigan or Georgia Southern/UF) the underdog catches lighting in a bottle and shocks the nation.