The first day of Southeastern Conference Media Days predictably turned into a forum for coaches such as Florida’s Urban Meyer and Alabama’s Nick Saban to stand up and rail against these evil, unscrupulous sports agents preying upon their poor, naïve players.
Meyer referred to the agents as “predators” and “piranhas preying on our kids.”
“It’s ridiculous and it’s entrapment of young people,” Saban said. “… Agents that do this, I hate to say this, but how are they any better than a pimp? I have no respect for people who do that to young people, none. I mean, none. How would you feel if they did it to your child?”
Question for Saban: If the agents are pimps, doesn’t that make prostitutes out of the players who knowingly take the illicit cash and gifts? And, by the way, Nick, isn’t there something a little hypocritical about a $4 million-a-year college football coach essentially referring to agents as blood-sucking parasites?
As you probably know by now, both Florida and Alabama, the big dogs of the SEC, are not only fighting for league supremacy; they are battling over who is has a more embarrassing agent controversy.
The Gators are investigating allegations that former star offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey received $100,000 from a sports agent before last season ended. Pouncey has vehemently denied the allegations as did his twin brother Mike here Wednesday. Meanwhile, Alabama is investigating whether one of its current stars — junior defensive end Marcell Dareus — attended an agent-related party in South Florida over the summer.
And, as has become customary, everybody is being held accountable for the agent problem in college football except the most guilty people of all – the players themselves.
Can we stop painting these players as the innocent victims when really they are the culpable villains?
Let’s make this clear: We don’t know whether Pouncey is guilty of taking $100,000 from a sports agents as has been alleged, but if he did, don’t give me this garbage about how he was victim of entrapment. Good grief, the guy is a 21-year-old junior in college. He knows how the game works. He has been lectured ad nauseum about the evils of taking money from a sports agent. He knows it is wrong to take $100,000 in cash.
These players know exactly what they’re doing when they have their hands out taking money from any agent who will give it to them. And why shouldn’t they when there are no ramifications for their actions.
Alabama’s Dareus is a perfect case study. I can almost guarantee this is how his “punishment” will go down because this is how it always goes down: He will be ruled ineligible at some point in the next few days, but Alabama will then immediately apply to the NCAA have his eligibility restored. Translation: Dareus may be suspended for a game or two, but you better believe he’ll be on the field when the Tide reaches the meat of their schedule.
Saban can talk all he wants about how players need to be held responsible, but what player isn’t going to take free money when all he’s risking is a two-game suspension? I’ve been writing this for more than a decade: If you want to stop players from taking handouts from agents then expel them from the team and ban them from NCAA competition permanently. Put their NFL futures in jeopardy – and you will quickly get their attention.
These players are intentionally breaking the rules. They know they are jeopardizing their school’s stature, image and future. Yet, still, they suffer no meaningful repercussions.
Look at what Reggie Bush cost Southern Cal. He destroyed the school’s reputation. He caused coaches and administrators to get fired. He got massive NCAA penalties levied against the school.
Everybody got punished for Reggie Bush’s actions except Reggie Bush. He jetted off and made millions in the NFL while the USC program and the players left in it now have to deal with the monumental fallout.
It’s time for coaches, administrators and, yes, law enforcement officials to start getting tough on players. Ask yourself this: Why is there is a state law in Florida making it illegal for agents to pay college players, but it’s not illegal for college players to accept money from agents?
The bottom line is this:
If you’re going to prosecute the pimp, you better prosecute the prostitute.