Today, an e-mail dispatch from my female shorthair friend Blaze, who owns retired newspaperman Darrell Simmons. Blaze writes:

The old man has been talking about how big the paychecks are for athletes and coaches. He says the guaranteed $47 million the Falcons will give Julio Jones seems OK, but that Jones gets hurt a lot.

Mostly he goes on and on about the old days. When he was a student at the University of Florida in 1960, the Gators hired Ray Graves as athletic director and head football coach for $17,500 a year. They had to give J. Wayne Reitz, president of the school, a raise so the football coach didn’t make more.

Darrell says seventeen-five was a lot of money then. Football tickets for the 11,000 students were covered by their student activity fee, part of $90 tuition per semester. Others paid $7.50 a game. Now the school has close to 50,000 students who pay $6,300 a semester for tuition. (They can get one ticket for $15 if they have paid the student activity fee.)

In 1960, Florida Field held 43,000, and before Graves turned the program around, some students went to games to study because it was quieter than the library. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium had 90,277 wildly loud fans for this season’s opener. Non-students paid $32 to $243 per ticket. Don’t even think about the donations required to buy season tickets.

Of course, the schools and pro owners can afford the big paychecks, because of television and all. But consider this:

Graves’ salary in 1960, adjusted for inflation, is about $140,000 in today’s money.

Florida’s new coach, Jim McElwain, is starting at $3.25 million per season.

I love hearing about the old days, when good cat food was a dime a can.

Best regards … Blaze

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