College Football Coaches, the Ultimate 1 Percent

By Connolly, Matt | The Washington Monthly, January-February 2015 | Go to article overview

College Football Coaches, the Ultimate 1 Percent


Connolly, Matt, The Washington Monthly


More than a century ago, the very idea of paying coaches was up for debate. The arguments against it looked very similar to the arguments today against paying players.

In 1925, one of college football's biggest stars did the unthinkable. Harold "Red" Grange, described by the famous sportswriter Damon Runyan as "three or four men rolled into one for football purposes," decided to leave college early in order to play in the National Football League.

While no fan today would begrudge an All-American athlete for going pro without his diploma, things were different for Grange. The NFL was only a few years old, and his decision to take the money in the pros before finishing his degree at the University of Illinois was a controversial one. It was especially reviled by Robert Zuppke, his coach at Illinois.

As the story goes, Grange broke the news to Zuppke before promising to return to finish his degree. "If I have anything to do with it you won't come back here," Zuppke replied, furious that a respectable college man would drop out and try to make a living off playing a game. "But Coach," Grange said. "You make money off of football. Why can't I make money off of football?"

It's a question that has underscored the development of modern college football ever since. Aside from scholarships and (some) health insurance, the players remain unpaid. They are also subject to draconian National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) rules that banish them to hell for such sins as signing an autograph for cash or selling a jersey. Meanwhile their coaches enjoy ever-swelling salaries, bonuses, paid media appearances, and other perks like free housing. According to Newsday, the average compensation for the 108 football coaches in the NCAA's highest division is $1.75 million. That's up 75 percent since 2007. Alabama's Nick Saban, college football's highest-paid coach, will earn a guaranteed $55.2 million if he fulfills the eight-year term of his contract.

This widening chasm between coaches and players is creating a growing economic, moral, and public relations challenge for college football. A burgeoning chorus of critics is calling out the NCAA for its hypocrisy. Some want market rates for college players, while others want more incremental changes--a combination of stipends, guaranteed four-year scholarships, better medical care, and financial control for players over their likenesses. To those ends, the NCAA is staring down the barrel of multiple antitrust lawsuits and other litigation over concussion liability, while an attempt by football players at Northwestern University to unionize is awaiting a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board.

Since school athletic departments have to commit their revenue back into sports, money not spent on stipends and other direct benefits for athletes helps inflate those massive coaching salaries. But the difference wasn't always so stark. More than a century ago, the very idea of paying coaches was up for debate. The arguments against it looked very similar to the arguments against paying players, right down to the concern for the college game's amateur spirit.

But as football evolved, coaches were elevated above players, rising to become salaried employees, tenured professors, and, eventually, living legends who could demand millions to ply their trade. They broke down the walls of amateurism at the expense of athletes, whose own push for compensation hasn't gone much further than paid tuition.

In the nineteenth century, many football coaches weren't paid--or at least weren't paid specifically for football. Some were graduate volunteers, some were physical education professors or general athletic trainers. Either way, winning football games was not their primary job.

That began to change as the century turned, with more and more schools giving coaches salaries and keeping them around full time to focus on the football team. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

College Football Coaches, the Ultimate 1 Percent
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.