Urban Meyer deserves a raise

According to Florida Today, “But any time you turn over more money to a coach in the middle of economic crisis, it doesn’t look good.”

Doesn’t look good? Who cares? Good leaders shouldn’t.

Florida’s Urban Meyer deserves a raise, and those who worry about the public image need to stop running a multimillion dollar organization through opinion polls.

Florida’s athletic director Jeremy Foley has one real job—make sure the budget balances, and preferably grows. To make that happen, the athletic director has a relatively small core of people to please, fans who buy tickets and Florida merchandise. What is the key demand of this demographic? Winning.

Why winning? Because it is fun. Alabama fans enjoyed most of 2008, but didn’t enjoy 2006 very much. Do we really need more proof? Winning is fun. We know that a priori.

There is an ancillary group the Florida athletic department needs to please—television executives. However, what pleases television executives is the same thing that pleases fans. Winning. There are other things television executives like too. Having a personality like Steve Spurrier, or being a dumbass like Lane Kiffin are helpful to ratings. However, winning is the most important thing to getting viewers.

Does anyone remember the ratings from the SEC Championship game between #1 Alabama and #2 Florida? The game drew a 9.3 rating, and was viewed in 15.3 million homes.

Winning is good for business. SEC athletic department budgets are soaring across the conference.

If you have one of the best coaches in college football, it would be foolish to risk losing him to appease some assistant professor over in the English department. You can’t put at risk millions in profit to keep Luddites, socialists, women’s studies professors and Florida State fans content. Good leaders can look past the criticism of rivals. Good leaders ignore opinion polls and do the right thing for the organization.

Faculty worried about the message of giving Meyer a raise while faculty members suffer in a down economy should examine how things work on a college campus. There already is a disparity in pay. When I was in college, one of my astronomy professors admitted he supplemented his salary through research grants. It was a competitive process that brought him extra dollars. He said it paid his summer salary. He was blunt about why this was important; every extra dollar he earned via research grants helped him now and increased his retirement. Even life in the Academy isn’t fair.

How can we expect big business like college football to be fair?

We can’t. We shouldn’t. It is business. Some people are better at it than others. It isn’t fair, but it is what it is. And thank God for it.