Sometimes You're the Problem

You arrive for your interview at the most posh hotel in town, where you’re met by the local chapter of Plutocrats R Us — millionaire alumni, billionaire builders, all dropping by on their private jets to meet you. Their female companions, dripping diamonds, whisk your wife off to fashionista spas — while you are wined and dined and begged to consider a job paying a measly $3-million. Plus, of course, the summer house, private schools for the youngsters, and Jaguars for all.

And you didn’t have to submit references.

And you didn’t have to publish a thing.

Because you’re a top-of-the-line football coach.

Such wooing and swooning won’t happen to Laird or Neo. Stellar acts of teaching and lit crit won’t net the bucks or the prestige that Nick Saban brought to Louisiana State University (until the Miami Dolphins stole him for $5-million).

Football also gives its fans a history of ecstatic moments, like Doug Flutie’s miraculous Hail Mary pass at the end of Boston College’s 1984 season. But no one thrills the young with tales of “my interpretive breakthrough with Foucault” (“I was polishing the ceramic swan when I had a flash of blinding insight. …”).

And so, when you apply for a job in academe, and you’re not Nick Saban, you have to follow the rules. Every year thousands of Ph.D.’s seek tenure-track jobs in English, and only an estimated 40 percent will ever get them. Many, like Ms. Mentor’s correspondents, will get sent to the showers early. –“Ms Mentor” —Sometimes You’re the Problem (Chronicle)