I'm shocked it took this long for someone to pay NFL value to an NFL coach to come coach college.
What is Harbaugh's true value to Michigan over Hoke? What is Saban's value to Notre Dame over Kelly?
There's a debate below and a good point was made that with Notre Dame so high in revenue we don't have much higher to go so keeping expenses at a reasonable level makes sense. But that's not true of Michigan and it's not the whole story.
For Michigan, they were cratering revenue compared to their "successful" years. They have a giant fan-base that loves wearing shoddy t-shirts and a very large stadium to fill. Moreso than most, they take a direct hit in revenue when their team sucks, particularly moreso than ND who has their own tv contract. They've just ensured that next year's revenue will be better than last year's...by a lot.
But that's not the whole story. Because while people debate the dollars and cents of athletic programs and football programs P/L sheets; there's a much larger donation pool that is directly correlated with success on a national level in academics, research, and sports. Those numbers should be considered as well although they're difficult to quantify. People rarely say that they're giving 10 million dollars because their alma mater is playing quality football again, but it's stupid to state it's not a factor, particularly at ND. I don't know if I classify this influx of money as an externality to the economics of college football but however it's classified...it's huge and I've always felt it should mean that major college programs should be in direct competition salary-wise for NFL coaching talent.
In more direct response to your post: I feel NOtre Dame should always provide the best support and resources to its players as currently allowable under NCAA guidelines while at the same time helping to reel in those guidelines if they start moving towards a pay for play model. It's not good for college football if 18-19 year olds are making more money than the 45 year old blue collar fan that supports them. It's acceptable to watch NFL players make that kind of money (although that puts people off too) but when a kid that rides the bench for 3 seasons makes 100 grand doing it...what expectations are you setting on the child? The fans will decimate the kids and they may not recover. In addition, the kids will have so much income they've never had before that they'll waste it and end up like so many NFL bankruptcies but at a higher clip. An entirely new group of sleezebags will step in to ensure they get a piece of the pie as "personal financial analysts" that are more content to drain the kids then actually help them plan for their future.
This is why I can't support paying the players...it's just not in their best interest. I would, however, love to create an incentive for their graduation in some way while still giving back. What if each D1 player was paid 15k per year of service payable on the day of their graduation from the University they played for? Whether that be in 4 years like ND, 5 years like many other schools, or 20 years like for those students who jump to the NFL but finish their education later? Wouldn't that be paying the players while still maintaining the integrity of the game? It reminds me a little of military pay structure in the sense that while you're getting paid for active service, you can't really spend it and your expenses are paid so you don't need to, so when you're done you end up with a lump sum you are now responsible for. The military is also a very large employer of 19-22 year olds. This is how I wish we'd pay the players but I doubt that's what will happen...we'll increase their stipends and they'll get real money which is about 5x more valuable to them, on the side. Same as it ever was....