To be sure, excesses—like the poor—are with us always. Though the scent may grow faint at times among life’s many aromas, it has always been there, dating back to the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve chowed down on fruit from the wrong tree.My first documented excess came at birth on September 7, 1937, when I “weighed in” at 10 pounds. (Yes, I’ve been overweight most of my adult life, but at least I didn’t start out like Dan Blocker of TV’s “Bonanza” fame. They say he weighed 14 pounds, and his birth dates were December 10-11-12, 1928.)For the longest time, we’ve given passes to excesses, even when their maintenance meant we had to rely on the Peter-robbing/Paul-paying routine to stay afloat. Then, dad-blame-it, Peter went and declared bankruptcy….*****Sadly, the year of my birth marked the beginning of another excess—one that clearly supports the “camel nose under the tent” theory. The University of Texas Board of Regents, eager to hire the best coach around to turn their football program right-side up, decided that Dana X. Bible was the man for the job. Bible, a Tennessean, was a sports star at little Carson-Newman College, where his father was employed. He graduated there 100 years ago this spring, then set out on a brilliant coaching career. He won big-time at Texas A&M, where he introduced the “12th Man” tradition during 11 years there. Then came a half-dozen Big Six titles during eight seasons at Nebraska. The UT Regents lured him away, offering a 20-year contract at $15,000 per. (This annual figure translates to $234,000 in today’s dollars.)Stunned taxpayers across the state had conniption fits. Such a figure for coaching was unheard of, exceeding salaries of the Governor of Texas AND the UT President. And it was five times greater than the average professorial salary, for crying out loud….*****Sensing unrest, the Legislature intervened. That body “upped” the prexy’s pay, and no doubt figured out a way to sweeten the governor’s deal as well.Bible opened with a couple of rocky seasons, winning a total of three games, before achieving legendary status during the next eight seasons. Then, as per contract, the World War I fighter pilot settled in as full-time athletic director for the next decade….*****Alas, Bible was born a half-century too soon. Mack Brown, a fellow Tennessean born a couple of hours down the road from Bible, just got a far better deal to extend his football coaching empire at UT. His contract is for $5.2 million per year, with annual raises of $100,000, guaranteed through the year 2020.UT fans probably call this “20-20 foresight”; others call it ridiculous. The regents have taken absurdity so far up the pole it needs blinking red lights to warn pilots. They’ve taken “higher education” to a new dimension.There are a number of other institutions whose leaders have lost sight of what higher education is about, as well as the role of athletics. Were it 1937, there’d be torch light parades of protest. With so much to feel poorly about in 2012, most discontent is reduced to “tsk-tsk-tsk.” Few seem to realize that the goose laying golden eggs died several years ago and is buried on bankrupted Peter’s place….*****Some professional athletes march to mighty drumbeats, too. Prince Fielder is the latest example.He has opted to sign a nine-year deal to play baseball for the Detroit Tigers.His total pay? $214 million….*****Other major “players” on the spiraling staircase of excesses are spouses of same—particularly when they come to a parting of ways.Vanessa Bryant, former wife of NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant, did right well in the couple’s divorce settlement.Included in her $75 million “take” were three mansions valued at almost $20 million….*****Someone said she was singing an old-time Southern Gospel tune upon leaving the courtroom.“’Course, I think she was paraphrasing,” the observer noted.Her lyrics were sung thusly: “I’ve got three mansions just over the hilltop.”…*****Finally, a closing serious note. Our culture, from the White House to our house, must submit to a “pay as you go” philosophy, perhaps closely akin to 1937.It may take some conniptions to gain rightful attention. Absurd excesses must end….*****
Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Send email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.