Paradox in College Football?

by Brian on January 3, 2004

I have an inexplicable fondness for college ‘football’, but I’m worried about what will happen to the economy Sunday if this NY Times report is correct.

If the [LSU] Tigers win and claim the Bowl Championship Series title, Saban will be paid one dollar more than the highest-paid college coach in the nation, according to an incentive clause in his contract.

Since Saban is a college coach, it seems he must be paid a dollar more than he is paid. Which can only happen if a dollar is worthless, which I imagine would be rather disasterous for well-established economic relations.

There are a few potential ways out of this problem.

First, one might argue that the above reasoning depends on Saban having a finite salary. If his salary is infinite, then one could argue that very loosely speaking he is paid a dollar more than he is paid. But believing this probably depends on confusing cardinals with ordinals, and in any case having infinite amounts of money sloshing through the system really can’t be good for inflation. So let’s not take that option seriously.

Second, Saban could be fired immediately so that the initial premise, that he is not a college coach, is broken. This would be a rather ungrateful reaction to the guy who just won you a (share of the) national championship, but it might be in the best interests of the world economy.

Third, LSU might get beaten. I quite like LSU though, largely because they host my favourite ethics conference, so I don’t want this outcome if it can be avoided.

Obviously this is all meant to be something of a joke, because one presumes that the quantifier domain in Saban’s contract is meant to only include other coaches. Even on that interpretation, as soon as one other coach gets the same clause we could be in trouble. And given how hard it’s been for Nebraska to lure a big name coach, I would not be surprised if they do offer such a clause to prospective candidates.

Thanks to Invisible Adjunct for the original link.



Sam Jackson 01.03.04 at 3:55 am

Not just any other coach having that contract…but Pete Carroll since he is likely to end up with a national championship as well!


Keith M Ellis 01.03.04 at 6:58 am

“Saban will be paid one dollar more than the highest-paid college coach in the nation…”

No paradox, as the first clause is in the future tense while the second is arguably in the past/present.


Tom Slee 01.03.04 at 2:42 pm

I do have a suspicion that implicit clauses of this kind are part of the reason for growing inequality.

That is, companies (in North America, at least) now routinely decide salaries by comparison to industry norms. Some jobs–the better paid ones–are deemed “essential” and companies are prepared to offer a bit above the average for such positions. For other jobs they are prepared to pay “competitively”, meaning the average.

It doesn’t take many years for CEO packages to go through the roof once this kind of approach to salaries is widely adopted.


Brian Weatherson 01.03.04 at 3:34 pm

This was obviously meant to be a bit of a joke, but the point Keith makes is actually relevant to its real-world interpretation. I’d bet it’s actually clear in the interpretation of the contract that Saban is meant to be paid more than the (other) highest paid coach next year is to be paid. Given how much Nebraska will have to pay to get Jim Fassel (or whoever they hire) to move to Lincoln, this could be a real windfall for Saban.


Walt Pohl 01.03.04 at 5:17 pm

I hadn’t heard the Fassel to Nebraska rumor. How likely do you think it is? It seems like Fassel is the belle-of-the-ball for an NFL head coaching slot this time around.


Brian Weatherson 01.03.04 at 7:10 pm

I made up the Fassel to Nebraska rumour, because I wanted an example of a possible salary above $3 million. But it’s not entirely absurd. Fassel seems prepared to take the Cardinals job so I’d figure he’d be interested in the Nebraska job too, which has to be more fun in most ways. Considering Fassel is by any measure a better coach than Pete Carroll, and Pete Carroll just took USC to a national title, Fassel at Nebraska could really be dominant.


R.V. Agnos 01.03.04 at 10:39 pm

While obviously intended in jest, a similar real-world problem has emerged in the world of organization board members.

Orgs don’t want to be seen to be cheap in compensating board members, and don’t want to be locked into a fixed figure.

Therefore, it has become very common to have a clause guaranteeing payment to board members that will be “in the top quarter of all boards nationwide”.

As the prevalance of this clause approached 25% of all organizations, it obviously led to a problem.


Keith M Ellis 01.04.04 at 2:21 am

As the prevalance of this clause approached 25% of all organizations, it obviously led to a problem.“—r.v. agnos

Why? Or did you mean “exceeded 25%”? Oh, wait, you wrote “led to a problem” which makes sense. Never mind.

I must be in a persnickety mood today. I’ll leave now.


asg 01.04.04 at 5:06 am

Actually, I think most coaching contracts of this sort have a clause along the line of “If Saban (or whoever) achieves goal X, he will be made the highest paid coach in the country.”

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