Western makes commitment to football program

Two conclusions can be reached concerning head football coach David Elson’s contract, which includes a starting base salary that’s four dollars higher than what former coach Jack Harbaugh earned in his final season.

It’s either Athletic Director Wood Selig’s final slap in Harbaugh’s face, or it’s evidence that Selig and Western are finally making a commitment to Hilltopper football.

We’ll give Selig the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s the latter.

Not only is it time to put the Selig-Harbaugh issue to bed, it’s time that Western realized that football is more than the opening act for basketball season.

There’s little question that basketball reigns supreme at Western, just as it does at nearly every other high school and college in hoops-crazy Kentucky.

There’s also no denying that Western’s benefits – in exposure and finances – from the basketball teams’ appearances in the Division I NCAA Tournaments trump the boosts from the football team’s Division I-AA national championship.

But there’s no reason the football program should continue to succeed despite the university, as it did under Harbaugh’s guidance.

To us, Elson’s contract demonstrates Western’s renewed interest in the football program that has become one of the nation’s elite.

The hiring of Elson, the defensive coordinator for the national championship team, reflected a desire for the football program to continue along the path Harbaugh cleared.

And by compensating Elson as it did Harbaugh, Western expects its new coach to work as hard as its old coach, whose well-documented, decade-long turnaround of the program is the stuff of legend on the Hill.

Knowing what we do about Elson, those were likely his intentions anyway.

But the sudden departure of Harbaugh and the rapid search that landed Elson left us wondering how the football program would look when the dust settled.

With a good coach at the helm and the backing of the university, Hilltopper football doesn’t appear to have lost any ground.

And it just might get better from here.

Looks like four bucks well spent.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member board of student editors.