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Putting price on Irish football

That fierce little Fighting Irish leprechaun can stop searching for the pot of gold. It appears to be sitting on the 50-yard line at Notre Dame Stadium.

A study by Indiana/Purdue-Columbus finance professor Ryan Brewer and reported this week by the Indianapolis Business Journal lists The University of Texas and the University of Notre Dame as the two most valuable college football programs in the country.

Value? What does that have to do with it? College football players are supposed to be above reproach, aren’t they? Whatever the offer, players are supposed to decline. A.J. McCarron couldn’t accept gifts for his girlfriend from Brent Musburger. Manti Te’o couldn’t accept gifts for his girlfriend from anybody. If someone asked “Johnny Football” Manziel to write his name 25 times on sports memorabilia, he was supposed to say he couldn’t.

But for the colleges and universities themselves, it’s a different story. College football is big business, and nowhere is it much bigger than at Notre Dame.

Ranking the programs as other surveys rank businesses, Brewer valued the Texas Longhorns at $875 million and says that during its most recently reported fiscal year, the program brought in $131 million in revenue, IBJ reported. Notre Dame was valued at $811 million and generated $96.6 million in revenue.

By contrast, the Seminoles of Florida State, the recently crowned national champions, were ranked 22nd and valued at a mere $277.9 million.

“The one thing that is quickly evident from Brewer’s list,” wrote IBJ’s Anthony Schoettle, “is how dominant – and football rich – the SEC and Big Ten conferences are.”

Indeed, there are six Big Ten schools in the top 15 school valuations – Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Penn State. Indiana is not among them. Brewer gives the Hoosiers a paltry No. 46 valuation ranking, with an estimated value of $125.8 million. Purdue is No. 48, at $114 million.