West Virginia Mountaineers Football is the 32nd Most Valuable Program in the Country

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Sep 1, 2012; Morgantown, WV, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Stedman Bailey (3) celebrates his touchdown reception with teammates in the fourth quarter against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone knows that college football is big money, but few realize just how big that money is. For most universities, college football is the cash cow that balances the books for the athletic department and funds the rest of the athletic scholarships. West Virginia University is know different.

In a study published by the Wall Street Journal this past winter, the WVU football program checked in as the 32nd “most valuable” football program amongst the major conference programs. This study, performed by Ryan Brewer of Indiana University – Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC), analyzed the intrinsic valuation of each of the BCS conference schools for the 2012 season. The values are based on publicly available information (minus Wake Forest which is a private school).

According to Brewer’s study, the WVU football program is worth $159.4 million. That placed WVU at #32 on the list, $5.2 million behind Arizona State at #31 and $400,000 ahead of Florida State at #33.

The Mountaineers high dollar value is a reflection of television revenues, tickets sales, sponsorship, and merchandising that has all increased as a result of the Mountaineers move to the Big XII. Fans have been more eager to attend match-ups against Big XII opponents like Oklahoma and Kansas State than they were when WVU was playing teams like Connecticut and Rutgers. Likewise, fans have been buying even more Mountaineers merchandise, especially items that signified their first season in the Big XII.

Part of the Mountaineers move to the Big XII involved the staggering of television revenue sharing. WVU is making only a fraction of the television revenue it should be to this point, meaning the Mountaineers value is only going to climb over the next few seasons.

That will hopefully allow the Mountaineers to climb the valuation rankings of the Big XII, where they currently sit sixth out of ten schools:

1. Texas $761.7 million

2. Oklahoma $454.7 million

3. Texas Tech $211.0 million

4. Oklahoma State $209.1 million

5. Kansas State $207.1 million

6. West Virginia $159.4 million

7. Iowa State $140.3 million

8. Kansas $103.4 million

9. TCU $76.6 million

10. Baylor $71.3

That means that as a conference, the Big XII is valued at a total of $2.395 billion with an average school worth $239.5 million.

As impressive as that is, how does the Big XII stack up compared to the other major conferences?