I'm all about people earning their money. From an accountant punching up debits and credits to a custodian cleaning the bathroom stalls to a CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation, every position in any company has an intrinsic financial value to it and as soon as the return on the investment in that position falls below expectations, it is a company's right to evaluate jettisoning said employee.
Along those lines, the opposite is true as well -- if someone is performing so well in their position that the return on the company's investment in them far exceeds expectations, they should be congratulated and maybe even given a raise. Maybe even a $2 million-per-year raise if they've quadrupled revenues for their university's football program.
This is a concept that some of the professors at the University of Texas fail to grasp.
When by the grace of a burnt orange God, Hunter Lawrence's 46-yard field goal sailed just inside the left upright against Nebraska and sent the Longhorns to the BCS Title game, the cash register rang. It rang for a lot of people (tickets, hotels, airlines, TV), but it rang loudest for the University of Texas with more exposure, more merchandise sales, and a stronger foothold on those alumni donations. As a result, the university decided to make Mack Brown the highest-paid coach in college football.
Good for Mack. Crunch the numbers any which way, and he deserves it. Football-related revenues at UT have gone from $21 million to over $87 million on his watch. As Teddy KGB would say,"Pay heeem....pay that man heees money!!"
Now, it appears certain members of the UT faculty have an issue with this. They see Mack Brown's raise as "unseemly and inappropriate," especially in light of the fact that the school faces some serious budget issues in areas that don't involve blocking, tackling, or Colt McCoy.
What I would tell these faculty members is "Get in line."
We've all got budget issues we're facing right now. Mack Brown happens to be the figurative CEO of a business (UT Football, LLC) that not only sustains itself, but has funneled millions of dollars into academics at your school. This doesn't even take into account the de facto marketing that your school gets from the exposure through athletics, particularly football.
Go ahead and get on your soapbox looking for a few extra bucks here or there, Professor Fortyacres. But until they start televising a roomful of kids taking a physics exam, or until they start selling tickets to a foreign language lab session, keep Mack Brown's name out of your mouth.
Besides, if you want "unseemly and inappropriate," just head on down Highway 290 a couple of hours and go to a Rockets practice. There you will (might?) find one Tracy Lamar McGrady. He is the highest-paid player in the NBA this season, making $23,329,561, and as best we can tell, his activities this season consist of the following:
-- A blog post about once every three weeks
-- Practicing with the team....kinda sorta
-- Telling the media the complete opposite of what the Rockets tell them when it comes time to answer the question "Soooooo, are you ready to play yet, Tracy?"
-- Fucking up people's Heineken orders at Toyota Center
Basically, you have a guy who is getting paid a king's ransom after quitting on his teammates in the middle of last season, and if you don't think he quit, I highly recommend reading this blog post from Clutch over at Clutchfans.net. Actually, I recommend it even if you do think he quit.
I'm not a contract lawyer, so I don't know how an NBA contract reads, but I do know that if I were Leslie Alexander I'd want to do whatever I could to get my $23 million worth, even if it meant giving Tracy McGrady horrifically embarrassing assignments for my own amusement. A $23 million court jester, if you will. Off the top of my head, here are five ideas Alexander can mull over as he sits courtside tonight for the Pistons game:
1. Tracy Beer Man. If Tracy wants to show off his newly rehabilitated, microfracture-surgerized knee, what better way to do so than to have him make endless runs up and down the steps of Toyota Center. This would also give everyone the chance to order Budweisers from him and when he hands them over, say "WHERE THE HELL IS MY HEINEKEN!!!" "Guys night out to go mock Tracy Beer Man" would appear to be a highly underrated way to kick off a bachelor party.
2. Clutch the Tracy. Clutch the Bear needs a little spicing up. If fans knew it was not only a tribute to Tracy, but Tracy underneath the actual costume, Clutch would be more interesting than he's ever been. If you want to have two Clutches, that's fine -- you can give the Tracy Clutch a knee brace, a shoulder harness and, um, different eyes.
3. Tracy the Baby Seal. If for some reason, Tracy complained about how hot the Clutch costume was (and let's be real -- he's going to complain at some point), then I say make him part of a 30-second one-act play. In games where the Rockets are making a big run, have Tracy come out with a t-shirt that says "Baby Seal" and have Clutch club him over the head with an actual aluminum bat. This, of course, would be a tribute to this gem from Clyde Drexler...
A tribute to Clyde while inflicting harm on Tracy....killing two seals with one club.
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4. Door to door Tracy. Send Tracy door to door around the city of Houston selling Rockets ticket packages and merchandise until he sells enough to make up for all of the money he has stolen from the franchise. Bonus points if Leslie Alexander asks him to dress in a white short-sleeved shirt and black tie like those missionaries that roll around neighborhoods saving souls.
5. Tracy the Enforcer. If you are absolutely painted into a corner where somehow paying Tracy to just stay the hell away is not the best scenario and he absolutely has to see the floor again, make him your enforcer and send him in only to intentionally foul the biggest psychopath on the other team. However, be sure to instruct the rest of the team to stay on the bench when the inevitable brawl begins; in fact, instruct the other four guys on the floor to go to the bench as well. Leave Tracy out there to deal with Ron Artest or Ricky Davis or Stephen Jackson or.....
Do whatever you want to Tracy, people. Seriously, there is no athlete who represents the mind-numbing excess of NBA contracts better than him right now. Just stay the hell away from Mack Brown. At least he's earning his money.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 PM weekdays on the "Sean & John Show", and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.