So here is what is happening now in the groves of academe, where big-ticket college football is not at all incompatible with the mission of the universities it represents, oh, no, not at all ...
The University of Michigan just became the nation's first public institution to pay three assistant football coaches $1 million a year each.
Three assistant coaches.
One million each.
Meanwhile, the two coordinators, defensive coordinator Don Brown and offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, have been retained with contracts worth more than $10 million over the next five years. That's north of $2 million a year, if my math's right.
And as for the players who make it possible for those coaches to pull down such hefty paychecks, and who serve as unpaid human billboards for their universities' chunky apparel deals, and who enrich their athletic departments by winning the games and putting their programs in high-dollar bowls?
They're still constrained by the old fiction that constrains no one else: That this is an amateur enterprise fueled by earnest scholar-athletes who needn't worry their pretty little heads about how much their schools are making off their uncompensated labors. After all, they're getting a free education!
(Which is only half-true itself much of the time, as it turns out. But never mind that)
No wonder some of the unpaid help tried to unionize not long ago. No wonder "scholar-athletes" in a position to do so choose money over "loyalty" and "team" by sitting out bowl games in preparation for the draft. Like everyone else in this shabby theater of the absurd, they're just maximizing their future earning power.
Which means college did teach them something after all.