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The $32 million man at Bama

Before I get started on this week's thoughts, please allow me to make two brief personal observations.

One - playing on any school sports team or participating in any extracurricular activity is not a right or an entitlement. It is a privilege to be a part of a team and one must accept that rules must be followed and you can't have unlimited second chances.

Two - if your principal must stop a game due to dangerous weather, make sure she holds off until your team has every chance to score the go ahead points. You never know when the game might just end up being canceled.

Five years ago, I taught a young lady by the name of Chelsea Jones in the seventh grade. Chelsea grew up in Alabama and was very proud of her Alabama heritage. Now she is a Thomson High School senior, and she plays softball and soccer for the Bulldogs. Like many Georgians, I made a lot of wisecracks about Alabama, and Chelsea always played the good sport and was the willing recipient of my feeble attempts at humor without blowing her fuse.

I used to tell Chelsea that the best thing coming out of Alabama was I-20 East. She would laugh at me as if she knew we enjoyed a "slightly" higher standard of living in Georgia. When I realized that Chelsea was too young then to appreciate the words to Lynrd Skynrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" I thought well, maybe she just doesn't get it.

This weekend, I'll take a trip to Alabama and get to see first-hand that the standard of living in the great state of Alabama has improved. The university of Alabama has employed the "32 Million Dollar Man" as its head football coach. The University of Alabama Board of Trustees has deemed Nick Saban worth $32,000,000 over eight years. His job is to first start beating Auburn and then make the Crimson Tide an SEC and national champion in football. Sooner rather than later.

I put pencil to paper, not really, I'm in Georgia. I used a calculator and figured that at my current salary, I would have to work 492 years to make what Saban will draw if he hangs on for the duration of his contract. Four hundred and ninety-two years! Somehow, I just don't think I can hang on that long.

I've never seen a coach with this kind of income patrol the sidelines before and I look forward to it. I saw Saban on the LSU sidelines three times, but that was when he was just rich, not filthy rich. Every time I hear Saban's name all I can think of is the old 1970s television show "The Six Million Dollar Man."

Col. Steve Austin, played by Lee Majors, was an astronaut that was injured and repaired with bionic parts on the government's dime. This was a one-time investment by Uncle Sam of "only" six-million dollars. With that investment, Austin became a secret agent that could run like the wind, see across the country and leap oceans. Can Saban do these things? In real life, Majors was married for 10 years to the infamous Farah Fawcett. Has Saban ever been married to the likes of Farah?

To prove that there aren't any po' folks allowed on the payroll Alabama made Saban's brand new staff the highest paid group in the SEC. It would be unseemly if they had to follow Saint Nick around and hope for a few loose coins to fall from his pockets. Secondary coach Kirby Smart made $135,000 at Georgia two years ago and now he will enjoy $275,000 yearly at Alabama.

There is the age-old argument that no football coach is worth this kind of money. There are people starving in the streets of Pigeon Creed and Mellow Valley in Alabama and they're paying Saban this kind of money just to make boys play ball right. There are places in The Heart of Dixie that don't even have streets. Something about this can't be right.

If you watched the Alabama-Arkansas game on TV Saturday night like I did, something told you that paying Saban to be the next bionic man is indeed right. That stadium was turned upside down when The Tide was rolling and sitting in stunned silence when they weren't. Like Chelsea Jones used to tell me, those folks love Alabama. I could read their lips. I'm positive they were saying, "It's only money."

Web posted on Thursday, September 20, 2007

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