Home game about more than cash for Falcons

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio âÄî Bowling Green head coach Gregg Brandon wanted a sellout crowd on Saturday. He wanted it so bad that with the help of a local Jimmy JohnâÄôs, he passed out around 400 sandwiches to students Thursday to promote the game. The occasion? The Gophers coming to town âÄî the first Big Ten school ever to play at Bowling Green. A near-sellout crowd of 23,184 (capacity 24,000) indeed showed up, but the Gophers spoiled the occasion with a 42-17 win. âÄúItâÄôs never happened before. We donâÄôt see teams like that at home, ever,âÄù Brandon said. âÄúFor all that to happen in one night, and to lose the way we did is very disappointing.âÄù The last sellout at Doyt Perry Stadium came Oct. 25, 2003, when the Falcons upset Northern Illinois. That day, ESPNâÄôs âÄúCollege Game DayâÄù was on campus. Saturday, fans showed up more than six hours before kickoff, orange-clad and tailgating in the grassy parking lots outside the stadium. âÄúItâÄôs nice to have a crowd packed to the max,âÄù Falcons quarterback Tyler Sheehan said. âÄúWe donâÄôt get that too often with some of the scenarios we have here.âÄù Those âÄúscenariosâÄù have made Bowling Green play six of their seven games against the Big Ten this decade on the road, with the other on a neutral site. But itâÄôs not because they canâÄôt compete. The Falcons opened last season upsetting the Gophers in overtime, and this season were favored by four points. TheyâÄôve had 10 victories against Bowl Championship Series conference teams since 2000, including wins against Missouri, Kansas, Northwestern and then-No. 16 Purdue. Last week they upset No. 25 Pittsburgh. The reason is money. Teams like Bowling Green, which plays in the Mid-American Conference, can earn more than $500,000 from playing away-games against BCS conference schools âÄî much more than they can make from home games. According to Bowling Green Athletics Director Greg Christopher, from a revenue standpoint, it would be best for the Falcons to play all four nonconference games on the road. But home games, especially against large schools like Minnesota, help build their fan base and create interest for the program. âÄúWe can make more money playing away from Perry Stadium,âÄù Christopher wrote on the athletics departmentâÄôs website. âÄúWhile a few schools still utilize the big guarantee philosophy with I-A football, I believe itâÄôs no way to operate a competitive program with healthy fan support. Even though it means sacrificing some revenue, our goal is to have six home games each year.âÄù The Falcons donâÄôt have a home game against a Big Ten team scheduled the next three years, and just one against a BCS conference school âÄî Maryland in 2011.