Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

The dough behind cupcake games and their sweet results

CW / Natalie Teat
Alabama running back Justice Haynes (#22) stiff arms a Middle Tennessee defender.

The finances of a cupcake game 

The dough behind cupcake games and what


Chattanooga is set to face off against the renowned No. 8 Alabama Crimson Tide, not in basketball or another sport but in football.  

The University of Alabama is paying the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga $600,000 to make the trek down south and likely be blown out. These games are buy games, commonly called “cupcake games.”  

The benefits for a smaller school of playing a powerhouse like Alabama are far more than a final scoreline. Chattanooga will reap the benefits in multiple facets. The Mocs, currently 7-3 and fighting for a Football Championship Subdivision playoff spot, will get the chance to gain more exposure by playing in front of the crowd at Bryant-Denny Stadium in a game that SEC Network+ and ESPN+ will broadcast.  

For more minor programs, this sum of money and exposure will go a long way in improving the entirety of the athletic program. The $600,000 will be used to improve facilities, buy uniforms, support team travel, cover game day expenses, and fund the Mocs’ other athletic teams.  

According to the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the Mocs athletic program boasts operating expenses of $21.05 million. $600,000 is only around 3% of Chattanooga’s total Athletics budget. However, every penny goes a long way in the name, image and likeness era of college sports.  

In an interview with Forbes, Chattanooga athletic director Mark Wharton said the trip to Alabama will help the Mocs in multiple facets.  

“I think it’s great for our players,” Wharton said. “The atmosphere is far different from the FCS, just the facilities, the amenities, and the crowd size. It’s a great benefit and certainly a recruiting tool for us.” 

On the other hand, as Alabama is coming off a gauntlet of SEC play and preparing for the Iron Bowl, the Crimson Tide will enjoy a nice break from the nation’s top competition.  

Head coach Nick Saban says the Crimson Tide must stay focused on the competition despite playing an inferior team.  

“A lot of the games we play in the 11th game of the year are after you’ve been playing seven SEC games and it’s difficult to get your players to stay focused,” Saban said. “That’s what we’ve tried to do with our players for this game.” 

As for scheduling a cupcake game, a Football Bowl Subdivision program’s benefits include an all-but-free victory, which could help them reach six wins and qualify for a bowl game. Not so much in Alabama’s case, but for a lower-level team, making a bowl game could garner up to multiple millions of dollars for the athletic programs.  

Also, cupcake games are another home game for bigger programs, which means extra revenue from ticket sales, merchandise sales and concessions. Alabama Athletics doesn’t publicize ticket sales, but according to Ticket Master, the cheapest ticket currently costs $9. At a typical SEC game, tickets go for around $130 a piece.  

The game kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday. 

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