The Orlando Sentinel recently began a series on tough economic times in college athletics this way:
The signs are there, as plain as a Penn State helmet. Athletic departments are bleeding money. Budgets are being slashed. Coaches are going on furlough. Sports are being eliminated.
After decades of excess, is the financial meltdown about to bring nuclear winter to college sports?
Not at Florida, not in the SEC. You might have heard that Urban Meyer received a raise to $4 million per year. You also probably noticed that no one blinked.
1) Nick Saban is already there. Bob Stoops is set to make $5 million (with bonuses) in 2011.
2) Meyer is kicking back $1 million to the Florida Opportunity Scholars Program.
3) Florida isn't on the hook for one dime of the deal. The University Athletic Association is a separate entity that funds UF athletics.
4) If anything, Meyer is underpaid. I mean, two national championships in four seasons?
So we're supposed to be outraged that the state's highest paid employee is the football coach. The only outrage should be at Florida State and Miami (Ok, it's a private school) that those schools aren't earning it.
You knew the raise was coming, but it is the first sign that the SEC is going to further monopolize the sport. It has the best coaches, it will continue to sign the best players. Get used to the SEC winning three national championships in a row and four out of six.
Don't forget league teams have yet to get paid from the monster $3 billion contract with CBS, ESPN et al over the next 15 years. When it does, each of the 12 schools will receive a $17 million check each season. So can Florida afford Urban Meyer? Yes. Should we be outraged. No.
Florida couldn't even win the buyout battle. Meyer owes the school only $500,000 if he jumps. That's tip money for the highest paid coach in the SEC.