Lots of colleges that play American-style football make sure to put two or three "money games" on their schedules each year. But these may not be what you think. EVERY game's a money game for the famous, powerful schools with cavernous, cash-producing stadiums. But the term refers to a welcome payday for smaller, or newer, colleges with ordinary facilities and less-celebrated football traditions.
These schools get to play a couple of money games each year because the monster teams are always looking for weaklings -- "patsies," as we call them -- for almost-guaranteed wins to fatten their records.
In return for gracefully getting pounded in visits to the big boys' vast stadiums, the patsies take home lots of money from their share of ticket receipts. Sometimes the big school will even throw in a half-million dollars or so to make it a REALLY sweet money game. With the funds, some patsies begin to build better facilities, hire better coaches, and, eventually, cease being sacrificial lambs.
At first glance, a perfect example of a money game this coming weekend involves teams from the University of Alabama -- a perennial powerhouse -- and the relatively new Florida International University. FIU has been the perfect pushover this year, losing all seven of its games, including two "money games" against big-time opponents
And Florida International will cash another big check after this Saturday's game. But Alabama had best not count the win just yet. You see, in their last game, Florida International's Golden Panthers, playing the University of Miami just down the road, made national headlines by starting a wild brawl with the mostly bigger, stronger, and more famous Miami players. So FIU may be a football pasty, but it's a patsy with punch.