The following script is from "The College Game" which aired on Nov. 18, 2012. Armen Keteyian is the correspondent. Draggan Mihailovich, producer.
Turn on the television almost any day this week and you'll find a college football game. And there's a good reason why: the popularity and importance of the sport is at an all-time high. That's because for more and more universities across the country success on the football field now equals a higher profile for the entire school. This has fueled an arms race in the college game, the likes of which the sport has never seen. And with a lucrative national playoff beginning in 2015, that race will only accelerate.
Just how essential is college football these days? Well, judge for yourself, as we take you on the road, and behind the scenes, beginning in Michigan Stadium, in a place they call "The Big House."
A fall Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich., and players from the "winning-est" program in the history of college football burst onto the field. It's one of the timeless traditions that define the game: the Michigan Wolverines slapping a banner in the country's biggest stadium as the band blares the school's famous fight song.
One hundred and twelve thousand fans roaring as one -- exactly how Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon wants it.
Dave Brandon: We want people to never even think about staying home and watching this in 3D on their flat screen television. That's unacceptable. We want things to be going on here that are not going to get covered, and not going to be a part of their living room experience.
That's why, for Michigan's home opener, Brandon brought in a stealth bomber to help kick off the game and, two seasons ago, had the game ball special delivered right out of the sky.
[Dave Brandon: We want our fans to be wowed.]
Brandon was hired as athletic director here two years ago - a former Michigan football player and CEO of Domino's Pizza -- schooled in the ingredients of marketing success.
[Dave Brandon: Good morning, are we ready to go?]
On game day, he never stops moving, arriving five hours early, double checking on everything from the expensive suites to the concession stands...
[Dave Brandon: So what's the best seller?]
[Dave Brandon: Hi, I'm with the quality control department.]
...to the freshness of the cookies. Truth is, he simply can't afford not to be obsessed with the tiniest details. Because like virtually every other college in the country, Michigan's entire athletic department budget - this year, all $133 million supporting 29 sports - is built on the back of one thing: football revenue.
Armen Keteyian: How much of that $133 million is your football team responsible for?
Dave Brandon: About 75 percent.
Armen Keteyian: So I'm doing the math, that's, that's north of $90 million. Does that number keep you at night?
Dave Brandon: Well, I think it was Mark Twain who said, 'If you put all your eggs in one basket, you better watch your basket.' I watch my basket pretty carefully when it comes to football.
Michigan has the nation's largest alumni group and a zealous fan base that gobbles up millions of dollars in merchandise. Even so, Dave Brandon taps into that fervor any way he can.