There’s something to be said about where Butch Jones might be mentally Thursday night and then Saturday afternoon. Whatever West Virginia’s Mountaineers do Thursday night in Tampa sets the mood for Cincinnati v. Syracuse as well as the Jones Family Bank Account.
If WVU loses Thursday at USF and the Bearcats win Saturday at home against Connecticut, then Jones goes to the BCS because UC beat Louisville head-to-head and thus has the tiebreaker for the 5-2 conference record those two schools would have.
That’s the only way for the Bearcats to get to the BCS.
Jones would also bank $100,000 for the BCS and $25,000 for a share of the conference title.
At 9-3, he’d receive $11,000 for nine wins while a 10th win in the BCS would get him $3,000 more. Beating Connecticut and then winning the BCS bowl would almost certainly get the Bearcats ranked in the final poll, which is worth $35,000. I’m relatively sure of that last part because the opponent would be ranked, which impressed pollsters and which also gets Jones an additional $10,000
That’s $181,000 or $184,000, depending on the win total at the end.
And, of course, things change if WVU wins before UC plays. If the Mountaineers win, Cincinnati can’t reach the BCS, which might be a bummer for the Bearcats two days later. And that might be a bummer for WVU, which can only reach the BCS with a win of its own paired with a Cincinnati win.
In that scenario, the Cardinals, Mountaineers and Bearcats would all be 5-2 in the Big East and the first tiebreaker — one team’s record against the other two — wouldn’t break the tie. It would then go to the team with the highest BCS rank, which is WVU.
If WVU wins and then Cincinnati wins to share the title among three teams, Jones still gets the shared championship bonus and is still eligible for the incentives for wins and a spot in the final poll — and that’s still likely if the Bearcats win an ordinary bowl and finish 10-3. That’s $121,000 or $124,000, again depending on the win total. It could be $10,000 higher if the opponent in the ordinary bowl is ranked, which is impossible to predict, but unlikely given the way things figure to shake out when the teams get their assignments.
The only guaranteed difference would be $50,000 fewer for an ordinary bowl instead of a BCS bowl.
Whether WVU wins or not, Jones is still playing for a win and a chance to grab a share of a Big East title at least $121,000 and as much as $184,000.
And maybe we’re looking at it all wrong — as if presuming Jones is even aware if these things wasn’t wrong enough at the start.
Regardless of what WVU does, if Cincinnati loses then Jones can’t earn the shared championship bonus. A win gets him that no matter what. If Cincinnati loses, Jones can only make either $8,000 or $11,000 for his win total and probably won’t have a chance to finish ranked and earn $25,000.
Championships, wins and rankings are what matter — much more than dollar signs, which
contractually simply come with them — and the Bearcats will be chasing those Saturday. A loss costs Jones a lot of potential earnings. In the end, a win Saturday could ultimately pay Jones as much as $184,000. A loss Saturday could eventually could pay him as “little” as $58,000. I bet he wants to win.