The news that Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban is scheduled to make more than $11 million a year moving forward comes to very little surprise. As it stands right now, Saban is by far the highest paid college football coach. He also makes more than many NFL coaches. It’s hard to argue against the fact that the Alabama football job is better than most NFL jobs.
What this contract does however is give us a chance to once again bring up the one topic that is perhaps the most divisive when it comes to college football. That is whether or not the players should be getting paid. Outside of the obvious obstacles that keep this from happening, the size of these coach’s contracts are so large, that we can’t avoid having this conversation.
In the last decade, we have seen an absolute explosion in TV revenue for college football. Rights fees are through the roof, and obviously the SEC leads the charge. The reason Saban is comfortably able to earn $11 million a year is because the market makes such a salary permissible. No one on this Earth would question whether Saban deserves this money.What needs to be happening more and more right now is how some of this wealth can actually spread to the young men who sacrifice their bodies to play this sport.
There are several deflections the anti-pay folks tend to stick to. The first of course is the oldest one, which is “a college scholarship is more than enough.” Now perhaps 25-30 years ago this would be true, but there are flaws with this argument. Is that scholarship worth the same as it was 25 years ago? Probably not. It certainly has the value, but the degree itself hasn’t been kind to this current generation. There have been challenges over the past several years of post college graduates having a very difficult time finding full time work in their fields. So the degree aspect within the current economic climate not quite the same as it used to be.
Here’s another excuse, “It won’t be fair to the other athletic teams.” Well if you look a the sports that generate a profit for their schools, maybe the revenue generating teams can help subsidies the sports teams that do not. This actually goes already. So paying players may narrow the profit margins, but if schools want to have other athletic teams, this would be the cost of doing business.
“Title IX” would make this move impossible. I’ve seen this argument, which could be shot down by just making the players employees of the University.
At this point finding arguments against paying players in college is becoming harder and harder to come by. As these coach’s contracts rise, so will the notion of actually paying these young men, something. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but some type of compromise. A system designed like this is going run into major problem. There will be back lash. Then again it is college football and no matter what happens, the die hard fans are ticking around, whether the players are getting paid directly or not.