Using Lobbying Expenditures to Predict College Football Games

I love college football. I also love studying lobbying in higher education. So, I thought, why not combine those two loves and see what happens? So, I present to you the first annual College Lobby Bowl.

What is the College Lobby Bowl? Well, I’m basically going to look at the lobbying expenditures for each team in the New Year’s Six Bowl games and college football playoff, and use those to predict wins. If a college spends more lobbying than the team it is playing, I will predict the big spender to win. It is as simple as that. Without further ado… the College Lobby Bowl:

Peach Bowl – December 29 at Noon ET

Michigan Wolverines vs. Florida Gators

My wife is a UGA alum – I’m not really allowed to be a fan. BUT, I am a fan of their lobbying game. Ten years ago they lobbied Congress for an earmark to fight citrus canker. They got it and UF’s research on the subject probably saved a bajillion oranges, limes, and lemon. To this day, UF sends folks all around the state trying to save citrus from a variety of diseases in what the CEO of a major citrus company called “the valiant efforts of the University of Florida.” However, UF spent only $220,000 lobbying Congress last year. The Blue and Maize blew the Gators out of the water and spent $410,000 lobbying Congress. As per the rules of the College Lobby Bowl, I predict the Wolverines will win. See how this works? More money equals win in the College Lobby Bowl.

Cotton Bowl Classic – December 29 at 4 p.m. ET – (First Playoff Semifinal)

Clemson Tigers vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

God bless the Golden Domers. Notre Dame is a consistent force in football… and in lobbying. The Irish $390,000 spent last year lobbying Congress, and have other important political figures – like Vice-President Mike Pence – on speed dial. Notre Dame is the alma mater of Ronald Reagan a former Secretary of State. Clemson counts a certain outgoing U.N. Ambassador among their alumni. But this isn’t a competition as to which university has the most high-profile political alumna (or a competition about football for that matter). Clemson spent more lobbying Congress than Notre Dame – I won’t tell you how much yet because it would spoil the National Championship prediction for you – but trust me, they spent more. I pick Clemson to win.

Orange Bowl – December 29 at 8 p.m. ET – (Second Playoff Semifinal)

Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Oklahoma Sooners

A battle of the football blue bloods. Alabama has won 17 national championships. Oklahoma has 7 national titles and 48 conference titles. Both have also won quite a bit of favor from Congress. Oklahoma received $5.2 million in earmarked funds from Congress from 2008 to 2010.  Alabama received an incredible $98.4 million in earmarks during the same time. Given the vast disparity in what the two flagship universities have received in Congressional cash, you might think that Alabama is the winner here. Nope, the Crimson Tide spent only $80,000 last year lobbying Congress. Oklahoma spent way more, but you’ll have to scroll down to the National Championship game to see just how much. I predict a Sooners win.

Fiesta Bowl – January 1 at 1 p.m. ET

UCF Knights vs. LSU Tigers

UCF once had the coolest mascot in college sports, spent $200,000 lobbying last year, and hasn’t lost a football game in two years. But, the Citronauts Knights lose this game by a measly $8,000. LSU spent $208,000 last year and thus the Tigers take the win. 

Rose Bowl – January 1 at 5 p.m. ET

Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Washington Huskies

No I will not refer to the Buckeyes as “THE” Ohio State University. In football terms, predicting this game would seem easy. Ohio State is widely considered to be the team left out from the Playoff with an impressive 12- 1 record. However, the Buckeyes spent only $280,000 lobbying Congress last year. The Huskies spent $730,000. Given that exorbitant expenditure the Buckeyes didn’t have a chance, Washington wins. 

Sugar Bowl – January 1 at 8:45 p.m. ET

Georgia Bulldogs vs. Texas Longhorns

A classic match-up between two historical football powerhouses. You know what Texas is also historically good at? Lobbying. They’re super good – and it is a good thing too. The Longhorns successfully lobbied for an earmark about a decade ago; that earmark paid for research that led to a cure for anthrax. So, if you ever are in a situation where you need an anthrax vaccine – and I sincerely hope you never are – you can thank the Longhorns’ lobbyist. She’s considered by her peers to be one of the best in the business.  Texas has spent a whopping $12.6 million lobbying Congress since 1998, a sum that places them 19th on the list of biggest spenders on lobbying among education interest groups over the past 20 years. Last year alone they spent $485,000. Georgia spent a solid $430,000, getting so close to beating the lobbying giant Longhorns.  Unfortunately for my wife’s law school alma mater, that extra $55,000 matters for these rankings, so I’m predicting a Texas win. 

National Championship Game – January 7 

Clemson Tigers vs. Oklahoma Sooners

We’re now down to the last college football game of the season. Tigers vs. Sooners (at least if lobbying expenditures accurately predict football wins and I want to stress that there is absolutely, positively no reason that should be the case). I could build up a bunch of suspense. I could draw out this paragraph, but I’m kind of impressed you made it this far through all of this silliness. So, I’ll cut to the chase.

Clemson: $470,000

Oklahoma: $510,000

Congrats to the Oklahoma Sooners! Oklahoma is now the champion of the first ever College Lobby Bowl.

I should note the data for all of this comes from one of my favorite websites on the planet: The Center for Responsive Politics collects all these expenditure data and puts it up on Open Secrets. Their hard work makes my research (and silly blog posts like this) possible. They also gave me the idea for this post! Check out their March Madness predictions using lobbying expenditures from last year.

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