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When North Carolina's football team reached the six-win mark two weeks ago against Boston College a trip to college football's cash cow also known as bowl season became a near-certainty.

Since the ACC has affiliations with nine bowl games it would be a major shock not to see the Tar Heels playing in December even if they lose the rest of their games.

The payouts for the games UNC could potentially be involved in vary considerably. A $17 million  payout was given to teams for an appearance in last year's FedEx Orange Bowl the BCS bowl with which the ACC has an official tie-in.

The payouts decrease sharply from there but UNC could still stand to earn around $5.56 million for being selected to the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

So the question is how many games does UNC need to win to reap a large payout from this year's bowl season?

Stop before you even start the speculation. It's a trick question.

The truth is even if UNC doesn't make it to a bowl this season" it would stand to benefit the same as every other ACC team.

""All receipts from postseason football games will be divided equally among all 12 member institutions" UNC senior associate athletic director Larry Gallo said. So basically if you go to a game and there is a certain payout" that money goes to the conference.""

All the bowl payouts go into a conference pool and then are distributed to every school" even those that don't make a bowl.

And if UNC isn't careful with its travel budget" it could end up losing money.

""You're living" if you will with a travel party of 100 to 150 people if you include everybody Gallo said. Housing them feeding them" transporting them becomes a rather large expense.""

For lower-tier bowls" ACC teams are given a travel budget of $1 million by the conference. As the quality of the bowl goes up teams receive more travel money all the way up to $1.6 million for a BCS bowl.

Gallo said other expenses such as renting practice fields and locker rooms during the week before the game can also add up. These amenities are not always provided by the bowls or their sponsors.

Texas Tech found that out the hard way at last year's Gator Bowl. It lost more than $200000 for spending more than its allotted budget.

Selling tickets is also an issue. If North Carolina makes a bowl it is responsible for selling a certain number of tickets by the bowl game that selects it. It has to reimburse the bowl for unsold tickets.

One example would be the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl which pits an ACC team against an SEC foe. Scott Ramsey the president of the bowl said that the ACC team is given 10000 tickets to sell.

Whatever bowl it lands in UNC will be on its own to sell the first 6000 tickets but after that the conference begins to split some of the cost.

Gallo said the Tar Heels should have no trouble selling their allotment of tickets unless they land at bowls in Boise Idaho or San Francisco Calif. — cities far away from Chapel Hill.

Of course there are more than just negatives of going to a bowl.

 ACC bowl schools make their experience worthwhile through less-measurable benefits.

The national exposure and increased prestige of reaching a bowl usually sends fans shopping" which means increasing merchandising opportunities.

""When you look at the universities in the country that are No. 1 in merchandising sales as far as the percentage of profit they get" it's all spurred by a lot of success particularly if you go to a bowl game"  Gallo said.

 Bowls also typically give out goodie bags"" to every player and coach on the team"" and these bags can have up to a value of $500 under NCAA rules. They usually select items to cater to the 18-22 age group.

""We'll typically have some version of an electronics piece" some apparel and a watch and try to load up on the electronics piece" Ramsey said.

And with 105 players on the sideline, as well as the entire coaching staff, simple math brings the cost of these to around $60,000 paid by the bowl.

UNC coach Butch Davis said bowls also have a tremendous value in serving as an end-of-season reward and a recruiting tool. He said it justifies all the conditioning, weight room work and difficult practices this season.

They've worked extraordinarily hard just to win these six games"" he said. It validates that we're moving the program in the right direction.""

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