Well, I hope you’re satisfied, college football
I hope you’re satisfied, NCAA.
I hope you’re happy.
With your fiscal ineptitude and reckless spending, you’ve finally done it.
You’ve managed to take one of the last and staunchest supporters of your “no pay for play” collegiate model and turn me into Jay Bilas and all of the other clanging cymbals who scream that college football and basketball players deserve to be monetarily compensated.
I have finally been beaten down not by the Bilas bunch who claim college athletes are being exploited, but by the obscenely wasteful way college athletic departments flush their money down the toilet with all their other poop.
My revelation came within the last week when FSU decided to fire Willie Taggart after a year-and-a-half and pay him nearly $20 million NOT to coach for the four years remaining on his contract. That was followed up by the Arkansas Razorbacks firing Chad Morris in less than two years and having to pay him more than $10 million NOT to coach. This is on top of the $12 million in buyout money the Hogs are still paying their previously fired coach, Bret Bielema.
After all these years of actually defending the NCAA and its nationally lampooned “collegiate model” of amateurism, I’m now all for paying college athletes. Not because I think they are exploited (I don’t) and not because I think a college education isn’t valuable compensation (I do), but because college ADs and school presidents are constantly squandering countless millions on unnecessarily overpaid coaches.
If FSU is going to pay Willie Taggart, a fired football coach, $20 million to sit on the beach and do nothing, then the Seminoles should have to pay Cam Akers, a really good football player, a decent salary for literally putting his neck on the line — not to mention his knees, shoulders and brain. If colleges are going to waste all of this money on stuff they don’t really need (see extravagant football-only facilities with indoor water falls, smoothie bars and Italian tile) then let them spend it instead on the one thing they do need — GOOD PLAYERS!!!
By the way, when did it become OK for public educational institutions to simply fritter away millions of dollars like this? Think about it: In what other profession could you cost your company $17 million over two years — which is essentially what Arkansas AD Hunter Yurachek did by hiring and firing Morris — and keep your job? Can you believe Arkansas will actually end up paying $17 million for a coach who never won a conference game?
It’s almost criminal how our big-time institutions of higher earning spend money on coaches. Why, for example, did Tennessee feel the need to hire Jeremy Pruitt and give him a six-year contract worth nearly $4 million a year. Couldn’t the Vols have signed him Pruitt to, say, a four-year contract worth $2 million a year? Pruitt, after all, is a first-time head coach who wasn’t exactly in demand when Tennessee hired him.
But Tennessee, like many of these ego-driven programs, perceive coaching salaries as status symbols. In their make-believe world where they’re spending other people’s money, they actually think the more you pay your coach, the more respected your program will be. In reality, the more you pay your coach, the more you’re going owe him when he ultimately fails.
The fiscal irresponsibility is mind-boggling. Before hiring Pruitt, Tennessee fired its former coach Butch Jones and had to pay him an $8 million buyout. Why? Because Tennessee extended Jones’ contract after he went — wait for it! — 6-6 in his second season.
Don’t ask me why it’s the industry standard for ADs to give a coach a contract extension and a hefty raise after one or two seasons of minimal improvement. Isn’t that what the original contract was for — to hire a coach who would improve the program? Why does that coach deserve a raise for doing what he was hired do do?
Another question: Why did the Florida Gators extend Jim McElwain’s contract in June 2017 and fire him four months later? When McElwain was hired away from Colorado State, the Gators had to pay most of McElwain’s $7.5 million contract buyout with his former team. When McElwain was fired, he negotiated another $7.5 million buyout settlement from the Gators. In other words, the Gators paid millions for McElwain both coming and going.
And, another thing, is anybody actually keeping tabs on where all of this money is coming from and where it’s being spent? If the FBI really wanted to make a splash, it wouldn’t spend its time investigating sneaker company execs and shady basketball programs, it would audit how college athletic departments are spending their money.
For instance, it’s being reported that FSU boosters are raising private donations for Taggart’s buyout, but has anybody seen any public accounting of this? Are we really to believe FSU, an athletic program swimming in debt, was able to just raise $20 million in a matter of days to get rid of Taggart? How do we know FSU isn’t just shifting contributions that were meant to be spent somewhere else to buy out Taggart’s exorbitant contract?
One of the biggest scams in history is how Florida universities have been able to cloak their athletic programs from public scrutiny. Florida State is in the process of privatizing its athletics department, shielding it from public-records requests and treating it like a corporation rather than an arm of a state university. The athletic departments at the University of Florida and UCF have been private for years.
Memo to state politicians: Why are collegiate athletic programs that reap tens of millions of dollars every year in public funding (see student athletic fees) allowed to spend that money without any public oversight?
Well, I hope you’re satisfied, college football.
I hope you’re satisfied, NCAA.
Latest Mike Bianchi
I hope you’re happy.
You’ve lost one of your biggest backers.
It’s time to pay all of the amazing players who are actually doing their jobs instead of the failed, fired coaches who aren’t.
Email me at [email protected]. Hit me up on Twitter @BianchiWrites and listen to my Open Mike radio show every weekday from 6 to 9 a.m. on FM 96.9 and AM 740.