by Ryan Meehan
Hardly your resident college football expert here at FOH, I’m stepping a bit outside my comfort zone to deliver today’s piece. However, I am familiar with the finances of sport – both at the professional and college level.
This past week, various sources reported that in a new book written by Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network “My Conference Can Beat Your Conference,” Finebaum stated the following:
“Texas was dead serious about trying to money-whip Saban. Depending on who you talk to — Bama big hitters or Texas big hitters — the Longhorns were prepared to give Saban somewhere between a $12 million and $15 million signing bonus and a salary package worth $100 million [plus performance bonuses].”
Saban has stated that there was never an intention to go to Texas, and that he is happy at Alabama where he is currently developing this year’s team to be everything that the fans expect in that state. Although he’s a great coach, as we know from previous experiences what he says in the press conferences isn’t exactly what goes on behind the scenes. So long story short here: He was probably offered the money, but eventually decided to stay in Tuscaloosa.
That’s all good and well, but it’s not really what bothered me about the story itself. The aftermath of the reports quickly spread to talk radio, and my biggest sports pet peeve once again rattled my eardrums until I got home.
Explaining that pet peeve is quite easy: I’m exhausted with hearing about how those involved with athletics make too much money. It’s a very simple supply and demand system, and anybody that hasn’t been beaten with a brick recently can tell you that. The reason that teachers and firefighters don’t make as much money as wide receivers is because they can’t sell jerseys and don’t bring in millions of dollars in ticket sales and television revenue. The argument should stop there, but for some reason people continue to cry and cry about this “injustice” in society that for some reason should be the fault of guys like Vernon Davis and Jimmy Graham.
And it’s got to stop. Seriously. You hear it all too much, and for some reason all of these people bitching about how wrong this supposed societal ill is are ignoring a simple concept called inflation. (Although obviously not the sole reason for the spike in salaries, I can clearly remember paying 98 cents for a gallon of gas seventeen years ago) I am so sick of these whiny pricks. If every firefighter and teacher made a hundred million dollars, Sales Tax on a candy bar would be 755%. Trust me, it wouldn’t work.
Returning to Saban, one of the sports talk radio personalities on the air questioned whether or not coaches should be making this sort of money. I say they absolutely should. Not all of them, but this is Nick Saban we’re talking about here – If anybody deserves that money it should be him. Plus, the athletes themselves aren’t getting paid yet (at least not legally) so you could definitely understand that there has to be a lot of money available to a guy like Saban. He won three national championships in a four year stretch, and I’d even be willing to suggest that if he continues at his current pace, we have to honestly start considering him to be one of the best college football coaches ever. The only other coach to win a national championship at two different schools? Bear Bryant. That’s not exactly Dave Wannstedt-level company.
Not that you want to be on that level…
Saban has gone 72-9 in his last six years as head coach of Alabama. There was even a perfect 14-0 season in there, and the amount of respect he commands from his players on a daily basis is a power not many other coaches have at any level in any sport. When you think about it, this demand for hard work, dedication, and good behavior off the field is something that should have a hefty price tag attached to it, especially when you consider that you’re managing a bunch of college athletes on scholarships.
Which brings me back to the teachers and firefighters thing…Saban essentially is both of those positions as a college coach. Putting out “fires” and instructing college students is pretty much his entire day. So if some of these NFL players are making this real scratch, I see no reason Saban shouldn’t be bringing home an equal amount of bacon as well. If Joe Flacco got a $120 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens, I’m certain that all of the boosters that support the University of Texas’ athletic department can come up with something in the hundred million dollar range with pretty limited effort.
So now that we have several players making nine-digit money over a period of time, I think it’s more than high time that we start offering coaches the same amount of cash. It’s safe to say that they possess a much lower risk of injury (unless they are running onto the field a la Mike Tomlin) and more importantly, they make decisions that have a serious effect on the future of the franchises they are directing. Although the coaches will never play a down, it’s their mindgame we’re watching. And at the college level, it takes a whole hell of a lot more direction and the pressure of being at some of these programs (especially in the SEC) is so large that as writers, we can’t even fathom it or come up with a scale showing how it should be measured.
So while you may hear from some people that may or may not be sports fans that athletes and those involved with athletics make too much money, you aren’t going to hear that take from me. Capitalism is a pretty simple thing to understand, and just because you view someone’s job as being less valuable than yours doesn’t mean it is. And keep in mind, unless we’re talking about the Green Bay Packers these pro teams are private institutions. They have people in charge (just like any other business) who have invested millions of dollars of their own money into making this business become great. In other words, it’s their money and they can do whatever the hell they want with it. Colleges also should operated as businesses, and I shouldn’t need to explain to you that Texas’ football program brings in a whole lot more money than their fucking microbiology department does.
“With the first pick in the NFL draft, no team will ever take this guy…”
I can’t wait to see the day when we meet the first hundred million dollar coach. Saban’s contract is up January 21st, 2022…So we may already be familiar with him already.
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