No. 897



Did you hear about the new game we have here in America? It’s the old game we used to call football but it has now become “Fill the stands on Saturday.”
While they still play the game, filling the stands is what it’s all about. The logical question then becomes: “How do you fill the stands on Saturday?” The answer, while complicated, is still very simple. The team has to win all or most of its games, be a conference or national champion and go to a bowl game.
To be sure the stands are half empty when the team’s record is 2 and 8 or some other similar won and loss record. Winning is what it’s all about as this is what produces the revenue to pay big-time coaches the kind of salaries they are now receiving, as well as paying for huge building programs that so many major universities are now doing.
The net result of this all-out attempt to win has produced a bidding war for college coaches with a winning record. In November 2012, USA Today Sports ran an article titled “College football coaches continue to see salary explosion.” The highest salary for any college coach, at the time of this writing, was Nick Saban, coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide. The amount of his total package was $5.5 million. The article also stated that six years ago, 42 major college football coaches make at least $1 million. Today, 42 make at least $2 million. Now that is pretty good money if you can get it.
Here is the line that rubbed me the wrong way and perhaps will you as well. The pay for football coaches has escalated even as schools face cuts in instructional spending. What we have here is a tragic mix-up in priorities and it has to change for the sake of America’s standing in the world and also our national security. When responsible citizens in our country can step back from all the hype, here is what we all need to understand. When a major university is looking for a new coach, finally Mr. Right is located, hired and moves to town, with his family, if he has one.
This coach is new to the community and had nothing to do with building the stadium and all the other athletic facilities. For public universities, this was done by taxpayers, along with students and their parents who paid tuition all the way back to when the university was founded or at least started their football program. We should never forget the purpose of colleges and universities in the first place, and that is to educate people to be able to work in a job or career and become responsible, productive, tax-paying citizens. That’s it. Everything else is window dressing. Athletics does provide some wonderful benefits to players and I am not opposed to athletics at all. I am just opposed to paying football coaches 10 times what they are worth as it relates to salary.
From my perspective, no football coach is worth more than a million dollars. Here is a suggestion that I hope decision makers, especially with the NCAA, might consider. Universities negotiate with a coaching candidate for the best possible salary. The coach then gets up to a million dollars, plus a bonus of $100,000 for every game his team wins. The rest will be split between the athletic department for future building programs and the other to the academic side of the university. This would foster a great relationship between athletics and academics and certainly the coach would still have plenty to live on. His assistants should also be paid an adequate salary while they are waiting their turn.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)