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Money can't buy love — nor a No. 1 college football ranking

2014_10_13_cmyk_NA_03Money is not always the mojo that gets you to the top of the college football mountain.

As the nation’s preeminent financial newspaper,  The Wall Street Journal understands money. What it is struggling to explain to its readers is how Mississippi State spends millions less on football than the average power-conference school—and yet the Bulldogs are now the new No. 1 team in college football.

In fact, the team the Bulldogs vanquished last Saturday – the Auburn Tigers – spends $36.3 million a year on football.


It comes in number 58th among power conference teams with an annual expenditure of $15.3 million.

That school up north – Ole Miss – spends substantially more at $25.2 million, according to data the The Wall Street Journal gathered from the  U.S. Department of Education.

Mississippi State ascended to the top of the polls Sunday for the first time in school history, leapfrogging previously top-ranked Florida State and separating itself from No. 3 Ole Miss on the strength of its 38-23 home win over then-No. 2 Auburn, which kept the Bulldogs undefeated this season and in line for a College Football Playoff spot.

The WSJ calls Mississippi State’s status atop college football “a remarkable twist” for a school whose lone Southeastern Conference championship came all the way back in 1941. But it isn’t just the school’s history that distinguishes Mississippi State’s climb. What makes it so unlikely today is that the Bulldogs are winning on a budget, The WSJ notes.

The $15.3 million Mississippi State spent on football in fiscal 2013 makes it thriftier than every SEC member and all but seven of the 65 schools in the five richest conferences (including independent Notre Dame), according to The WSJ.

Alabama, which hosts Mississippi State on Nov. 15 in the Bulldogs’ next matchup with a currently ranked team, spent $41.5 million on football expenses. It allocates almost as much for coaches’ salaries ($11.8 million) as Mississippi State does for its entire football program.


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