A few days ago, we heard about Nick Saban railing against the involvement of agents in college football during the SEC media day, eventually calling agents pimps. He was joined in his complaints by Urban Meyer.
Although the cynics in us would like to remind them of these coaches' salaries, as does the New York Times, they certainly have a point and are justified in their complaints. Incidentally, the reasons behind their high salary ($4 million per year) is somewhat related to the agent issue. The popularity of the sport, the lucrative TV contracts and the potential big paydays for some players in the NFL create a lot of incentives for third party parasites, aka agents. Surely, the athletes themselves bear some of the responsibility, they are adults after all. But The schools must continue to monitor these activities diligently, as must the NCAA.
Coach Neuheisel has his own views on how to curtail agents' activities in college football:
Speaking on the Dan Patrick's DIRECTV's show ahead of his appearance at the Pac-10 Rose Bowl media day, UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel was asked how he polices issues between agents and student-athletes.
"Only one way," the coach told Patrick. "If there's proof that they were involved in that, then they are banned. And that has to happen from the NFL level. They cannot be involved in anything but representation."
I think that is an important first step in dealing with the interaction between agents and student athletes. The incentive for it is created by the big contracts in the NFL. That does not mean however that schools such as U$C* get to wash their hands of all responsibility, much to Cheatey Petey's chagrin.
This issue reminds me a bit of the one-and-done rule in college basketball, only in terms of where the action must come from. The trick is to get the NFL to care about this issue, because the NBA at least gets some benefit from the one-and-done rule, but I cannot see how the agent issue benefits the NFL at all. In fact, the more I think of it , the more it seems that if the NFL cared for its players, dealing with this issue should be a priority. The push in fact should come from the Players' Association in order to prevent leaches with ill intentions from taking advantage of college players. It is in their interest to allow their players to have as many options as possible and get the right kind of representation once it's time to get to the NFL, rather than be stuck with wannabe agents who care about nothing for their fee.