Nick Saban is the first $6 million coach and we hardly blinked.
Saban received another extension from Alabama Monday, this one for two years through 2020. Yes, you may have noticed that Alabama throws around Saban extensions like they're Jordan Jefferson incompletions. (In other words, all over the place.) While anyone can debate whether Saban has earned the extension -- he has -- the big story here seems to be the great coach being the one breaking through that $6 million-a-year barrier.
Monday's report states that Saban will be close $6 million a year by 2020. But this report from late 2010 states that Saban has already broken through that barrier. OK, don't call Saban the Chuck Yeager of the wage scale. Maybe, the David Scott (seventh made to walk on the moon if you don't get the analogy.)
Compensation is not the larger story because it's no longer a story. I recall the amateur athletics' world gasping in horror when Bobby Bowden became the first million-dollar coach in 1995. Bob Stoops and Steve Spurrier broke through the $2 million barrier in 2001. That was enough to make the Knight Commission blanch.
For outrages, check the reaction when someone suggested a school be named after the 'Bama coach.
As far as insane jack for Saban? Hey, the economy is rebounding.
Are we now to assume that the going rate for the best coach in the game has risen threefold in less than a decade? Well, yes. 'Bama does a lot of things over the top. Check a game day tailgate or the NCAA infractions files. The debate is not whether Saban is worth it – Forbes said in 2010 his compensation would have put him fourth in the NFL – it's that we have become immune to those 'Bama extensions.
When you've got Saban, you don't compete with some arbitrary college salary structure, you compete with the NFL. That's the only place Saban can go -- and he's already tried it -- after winning two national championships in three years.
Ohio State's Urban Meyer did exactly that at Florida and all he's making at the moment is $4 million per year. Guess the Buckeyes had to show some restraint after the messy NCAA dust up.
It's now a question of how long Saban wants to coach, not how much he is worth. He'll be 68 in 2020. I predict he will be happily retired for a period of years by then. Meanwhile, when you're competing against a pro league that Saban probably has little interest in revisiting, no amount of money is too much.
At least for Alabama.