Who Is To Blame in College Football, the Agents or the Athletes?

Bryan FlynnAnalyst IJuly 23, 2010

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide speaks during a press conference after winning the Citi BCS National Championship game over the Texas Longhorns at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, California. The Crimson Tide defeated the Longhorns 37-21.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images


(Special shout-out to my good friend and college roommate Brian McFarland, who informed me student researchers do not get paid for their work)

The discussion of agents in college football has been front and center in college football since the NCAA began to investigate Reggie Bush at USC. The Trojans got the NCAA sledgehammer dropped on them by college football’s governing body.

Even before the hammer fell the Trojans saw head coach Pete Carroll jump to the NFL to coach the Seattle Seahawks. That left USC raiding Tennessee for Lane Kiffin, part of the coaching staff during the Bushcapade) for a new head coach.

When the NCAA did rule on USC they banned the Trojans from post season play in 2010 and 2011, the loss of 10 academic scholarships for the next three years, and more. The school even had to disassociate its self from Bush and basketball star O.J. Mayo.

USC had to give back the replica Heisman Trophy at the same school that still has O.J. Simpson’s trophy. Even after all of the negative publicity “the Juice” has brought on himself and the university.

So, even before the Bushcapade could die down just in time for the start of college football season, the NCAA was able to go on the war path.

Before I put the conspiracy theorist in me on hold let me say this: strange how Kiffin leaves the SEC and next Florida, Alabama, and South Carolina, Georgia all end up in under NCAA investigation.

First to come to light was that Florida Gators star offensive lineman Maurice Pouncey took $100,000 between the SEC Championship game and the Sugar Bowl. Pouncey through a lawyer denied taking any money and that his brother, Mike, who is still at Florida took any improper benefits as well.

The second and possibly the biggest player/agent scandal involved a party thrown and an undisclosed agent in South Beach section of Miami. Already players from four different universities have been implicated in the mega agent party.

Defending national champions Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Marcel Dareus has been accused of going to an agent’s party. Also accused of attending agents’ parties this summer is Georgia Bulldogs star receiver A.J. Green, South Carolina Gamecocks tight end Weslye Saunders, and North Carolina Tar Heels defensive tackle Marvin Austin along with wide receiver Greg Little.  

Just about every player involved has denied any wrong doing so far and most their coaches have said they have talked to their players. All of this information about players and agents flooded the airwaves just in time for the start of SEC Media days.

Instead of talking about football or national championships the coaches on the first of the three day of SEC Media Days focused their attention on agents. Alabama head coach Nick Saban in particular chided agents.  

Saban did not hold back on his thoughts of using strong language to condemn agents.   Here is exactly what Saban thought of agents:

"I don't think it's anything but greed that's creating it right now on behalf of the agents," Saban said in a rant at the Southeastern Conference media days. "The agents that do this -- and I hate to say this, but how are they any better than a pimp?"

Calling agents pimps called a stir that followed the other coaches on day one since Saban was first up. Even Florida head coach Urban Meyer was drawn into the fray.

Meyer decided pimps, was too harsh a word to use about agents but he did say they were predators. By the end of day one SEC commissioner Mike Slive placed a gag order on coaches about agents.

But Slive still had took time to take a shot at Kiffin, plus join coaches and media with solutions to fix the problem of agents in college football. One of the biggest fixes called for was for the NFL and NFL Players Association to help fix the problem.

There were plenty of other fixes discussed, including taking away the licenses of agents who approach players to a change in NCAA rules involving agents and more. Still this is not a new problem.

This has been a problem that college football has faced for years. Not only is this problem an old one but it also brings up an old arguments as well.

Arguments like who is at fault the agents or the players, should college football players get paid to end the influence of agents. Answering these questions is not as hard as one thinks.

First of all no college football players or any college athlete should not get paid. The university and the athletes both get something out of their arrangement.

The idea that the university or coaches get a free work force is laughable. With a scholarship comes tuition, books, a stipend, room, and board.

The monetary value does not stop at the end of a college playing career either. Over a life time person with a bachelor’s degree will make twice as much as someone with a just a high school diploma.

For anyone who wants to make the argument that “most college athletes are not in school to learn.” That is the athlete’s problem.

No one is forcing these athletes not to go to class or to learn and earn their degree. If these athletes cannot do, college level work that is not a problem for the university.

It is a problem that started not at college level but while these kids were in high school. At that point it is high school coaches and teachers who should punished.

The other argument is that universities make millions off of college athletes and that is why they should be paid. Well, I have to put an end to this lame excuse.

I have a friend that does scientific research. Just for this article I called him up and asked him this question:

What happens if a student works on inventing something or helps make scientific breakthrough that makes the university money? Does that student get paid?

The answer he gave me was the bulk of the money goes to university, than the professor gets a small portion. But, and here is the part to pay attention too, students are not officially entitled to a share.

That is right my friends, the guys working hard in the class room get bent over just as bad as the athlete on the field. While I do not know how much research brings to each and every university, I am sure that the money universities did make would not be possible without students doing some the work.

So if a student helped invent a cure for cancer, that student would not be officially entitled to any of the money. No, matter how much work that student did on the project.

I know someone will catch this, “officially entitled” does not mean these students are not allowed to get paid. Honestly, I have to believe that few if any colleges pay students for the work they do in research.

So until everyone gets up in arms over these students not getting paid, they need to keep quiet about athletes getting paid. Athletes are no better than students doing work that could actually change the world.

Still this does not mean that agents get a free pass. Agents that approach athletes in school and offer them money or gifts definitely should be punished harshly and swiftly.

These agents not only lose their licenses but have to pay the school 10 times the amount they paid the athlete no matter if it was in gifts or cash, they cannot represent that athlete.

That does not excuse these athletes for taking money from agents. In this selfish, me first world, it has to be expected that some athletes will take money and gifts.

Does being a part of “the me first” generation excuse athletes when they take money or gifts and screw over their teammates. No, in fact instead of punishing the universities, the athlete should be forced to pay the university 10 times what the agent gave him.

This is where the NFL and the NFLPA come into play. It should be a part of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Doing this would not mean future athletes would have to pay for the screw-ups of past athletes. As long as the player who made the infraction was still a pro he should be subject this penalty.

Agents would stay away and athletes would think hard about taking money. Because the only thing either athletes or agents will be scared off is taking money away from them.

To answer the question both the agents and the players are to blame.