One of the big perks to taking part in any kind of BCS is the huge cash payout to the participants and their respective conferences. Last year, the BCS distributed $142.5 million in total postseason revenue. Of that total, $115.2 million went to the major BCS conferences. Each conference received $17.7 million and for the conferences that received a second BCS rep, the conference received an additional $4.5 million. I don't know the specific breakdown of what the individual team's cut is, but suffice to say it's a whole lot of money.
The Stanford Cardinal football team entered this now completed weekend 12th in the BCS. To date their only loss is to the school that is likely to be #1 in the BCS when the new rankings come out later tonight: the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks blasted Stanford 52-31 and have continued their roll towards a potential Pac-10 title and national title appearance.
Oregon could certainly lose a game between now and the end of the season, and the way it's gone lately for top ranked teams (see Oklahoma, Ohio State, Alabama), the odds might even be good that such a loss will occur. And yet even if the Ducks win out, Stanford still has a very solid shot at earning an at-large bid and the upcoming cash cow that such a berth would bring. For a team to earn an at-large berth, the team must have at least nine wins and be ranked in the top 14 of the BCS. Stanford has dropped to 13th in the latest edition of the BCS polls just released.
Even if Stanford had hung steady or climbed in the rankings, they they would still most certainly have to win out to earn an at-large berth given Oregon's dominance in the Pac-10. Stanford lacks a particularly "name" opponent at this point the rest of the way, but they have a chance to have enough quality wins the rest of the way to get in the conversation. They host a ranked Arizona squad in two weeks that will likely be a top 15 team when they square off. If Cal can get some momentum going, they could also be ranked by the time the Big Game rolls around. Rivalry games are never easy but it would be a strong win for Stanford to go up to Strawberry Canyon and beat the Bears. The rest of their games certainly aren't easy, but they lack a lot of the name value that will dramatically impact the rankings.
A lot of this could come down to what teams above them garner an ill-timed loss. Stanford has a few chances to gain some ground even if the rest of their opponents were completely worthless. In two weeks, #7 Alabama and #12 LSU square off in Death Valley. That same day #4 TCU and #6 Utah square off in a loser is out of the BCS conversation matchup (like an old school WWE retirement match). Finally, #1 Auburn and #7 Alabama square off November 26 in the annual Iron Bowl. And of course this doesn't factor in the potential conference title games that can result in some crazy upsets.
Even if Oregon wins out, there are still a handful of chances for Stanford to get themselves into the conversation for some kind of BCS berth. The NCAA may hold fast to this being all about "amateur" athletics, but at the end of the day it's all about the benjamins; even for an esteemed institute of higher learning like Stanford.