clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Coaching Search . . .

to bring you the following: Mack Brown may not be the most popular university employee among UT-Austin faculty members. In fact, it's a pretty safe bet that they would all ignore Mack in the faculty coffeeroom now that they've unofficially deemed his new $5 million salary "unseemly and inappropriate." At least they would if he ever stepped foot in the joint. Mack has his Jamaican Blue Mountain flown in straight from Port Royal to his grotto beneath DKR, thank you very much.

Really though. $5 million is an inappropriate salary for a guy who coaches football for a living? Who knew? Not UT President Bill Powers. From the Austin-American Statesman (one of the 5 most awesomely named mid-sized dailies in the country, by the way):

I think this was a good investment in our financial strength and stability as we go forward," said President William Powers Jr., adding that the athletic program under Brown has had no subsidies or deficits and has channeled $6.6 million into academic programs in recent years.

You read that correctly. Mack Brown's salary, like the obscene amount funneled into the pockets of most BCS Conference head coaches, does not come out of academic budgets, or administrative accounts, or any other fund designed to educate Jimmy and Sally. It comes out of the pockets of ABC, and your rabid Texas-ex cousin Jim Don (or perhaps Joe Bob, they're big on double names in the Lone Star State). And unless old Bill is pulling everyone's collective legs, the overage that didn't buy Mack's gold-plated waffle iron or Will Muschamp's prized titanium leg press station actually went into the university's educational programs, rather than coming out of them. Few university athletic departments outside the BCS can say that.

This vote appears to me to be a triumph of idealism over practicality. Lockstep deontology over good old American pragmatism. In short, it looks like a bunch of ninnies from the anthropology department taking an offhand remark made during their daily coffee clatch one step too far. Mack Brown makes what the free market dictates. Is the salary obscene? Sure! So is whatever the top 5 executives at Apple are making. Ditto for whatever the top minds at Nike are pulling down. But Mack Brown's football team puts butts in the seats, and those butts are sitting on the wallets from which issue the checks that buy the lab equipment and keep the lights on in the history department. Insofar as the academic side of the University of Texas has a deal with the devil, it's a darn good deal. Much better than the one most universities have with their athletic departments. In short, UT faculty are among the least justified scholars in America in making this argument. Because Mack is making it rain in the economics department.

The University of Texas is a well-respected public university. One of the best in the land. And I say that without even the slightest trace of bitterness over the fact that they denied me admission to their wonderful law school (I suspect without even opening my admissions packet, though I can't begin to prove that). But some portion of that prized university is there because of the bustling river of cash generated by Mack Brown's football program. I'd suggest that the folks in the biology department thank Mack Brown for that, as distasteful as the prospect may be. Either that or raise tuition and turn down the thermostats.