It's not Notre Dame, either. Or Michigan. Or USC.
Alabama won college football's national championship last night, their third title in four years. But in a parallel competition for most valuable football program in college sports, Alabama is a distant eighth. The repeat champions in the money race? The Texas Longhorns.
That's according to Ryan Brewer, an assistant professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, who has calculated the market value of more than 100 college football teams as if they were for-profit entities. He estimates that the University of Texas and the University of Michigan field teams whose values could rival even some NFL franchises. Here are the top 20 by his count:
Brewer based his calculations on expenses, cash-flow, risk, and revenue from ticket sales, TV deals, and royalties.
What makes Texas and Michigan so much more valuable than other schools that would appear to have similar reach, like the University of Southern California, which comes in at number 28 in Brewer's analysis? "In the southeastern United States and in the breadbasket, we have a tremendous demand for U.S. football, especially where there isn't a professional analog, and the main sports story in town is college football," Brewer told me. "Texas brings in $123 million a year in revenue, and Michigan about $110 million from tickets, TV rights, sponsorships, and royalties." If you go back through the top 20 schools, you'll see that hardly any of those cities have NFL teams -- only a handful are within a short commute to a professional sports team.