Mad About Coaches’ Salaries? Here’s Why You Need to Hush
Last week ahead of the University of Louisiana's appearance in the Sun Belt Conference's championship football game I had the chance to visit with Dr Bryan Maggard. Dr Maggard is in charge of athletics at UL. One of the things we discussed was the economic impact of a winning football program on a community such as Lafayette and Acadiana as a whole.
Let me just say in layman's terms, it's a lot. In fact, it's a lot more than you or I probably realize. Scared money may not make money but winning football teams make a ton of money.
Many people who are not football fans often question why football coaches get paid an exorbitant amount of money. And why isn't that money spent on academics? Those are all good questions and much to the chagrin of the neigh sayers, there is a very good and legitimate answer.
For those who are still wondering how spending a ton of money on a football coach can actually benefit a university and a community you have to look no further than about four hours away to Jackson Mississippi.
Now, just to be clear, Jackson Mississippi is not the home of Ole Miss, Mississippi State, or even Southern Miss. Jackson Mississippi is home to the Jackson State Tigers. They, the Tigers, also spent some money to hire a big-name coach a season or so back. They hired NFL legend, Deion Sanders. He was often called Prime Time during his playing days.
In his time at JSU, Coach Prime has a record of fourteen wins against four losses. In the previous five seasons, the Tigers had a record of eighteen wins against thirty-seven losses. So, you can see winning football has come to Jackson State. And so has the money that follows almost every winning college football program.
Here in Lafayette, we were crowing about setting a new attendance record at Cajun Field for the Sun Belt Championship game. The Cajuns of UL put a little over 31,000 butts in the seats this past Saturday. Meanwhile, over at Jackson State, the JSU Tigers hosted Prarie View A&M in the SWAC Championship game. That game was attended by more than 50,000 fans.
You can only imagine the economic boost the city of Jackson and the state of Mississippi received by just that one crowd. However, when you spread the numbers out over the two seasons of Coach Sanders time in Jackson, the economic impact is staggering.
Visit Jackson, the city of Jackson's official tourism council estimates that the Jackson State Tigers have brought in more than $30 million in revenue. Let that sink in. Little ol' Jackson State University a $30 million economic engine? Yes and yes some more.
The impact isn't just fans in the stands and hotel rooms and eating at restaurants. The presence of Deion Sanders has brought good attention to the City of Jackson itself. The fact that the team is on television too means the football program, the university, and the city are all reaping the benefits of the exposure.
Good coaches will do that. However, good coaches cost a lot of money these days.
So the next time you or someone you know starts grinching about "how much they're paying football coaches", I'm looking at you Foster Campbell of the Louisiana Public Service Commission. You might want to shut all the way up until you have run the numbers.
Let's hope our next coach in Lafayette will have similar success to that of former Coach Billy Napier and Jackson State's Deion Sanders. It sure would be nice to have another $30 million dollars of other people's money floating around town, don't you think?
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