How much is a college football team really worth?
If judged on its value to the community, its school and its conference, Tennessee's football program would be the ninth-richest in the country, according to an analysis by Forbes.com released Wednesday.
That might be heartening news for fans who believe five seasons of mediocre football have tarnished Tennessee's national brand.
Some of the Vols' wealth comes by virtue of being in the SEC, which commands a rich television contract. Seven of the top 10 teams in the Forbes list are SEC schools.
Tennessee's "valuation" is $84 million, based on football revenue of $55 million and "profit" of $35 million. The athletic department has reached an agreement to keep the $6 million it contributed annually to the university, which will help the department's bottom line, if not the rankings.
Texas, the No. 1 team, is valued at $133 million.
Forbes said its methodology weighs four categories — value to the university (football profit contributed to academic programming), value to the athletic department (football profit that supports other sports), value to its conference (bowl game revenue) and value to the community (visitors attending home games).
The values can be affected by the same things that impact the value of pro sports teams — TV contracts, tickets, merchandising and sponsorships.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/Tennesseebeat.
Forbes top 10
1. Texas Longhorns
2. Michigan Wolverines
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
4. LSU Tigers
5. Georgia Bulldogs
6. Alabama Crimson Tide
7. Florida Gators
8. Auburn Tigers
9. Tennessee Vols
10. Arkansas Razorbacks