It Looks Like Somebody is Paying Attention

Dennis Dodd writes in a recent column about the issue of agents and marketing reps having access to players and the obvious pitfalls that await if the problem isn't addressed soon. The NFL has much more at stake in this than they know or are willing to admit.

Quinn has been insulated by his family and coach Charlie Weis, already having narrowed his list of potential agents to six.

Stanton is planning to interview a list of top agents himself when the time comes.

Kind of makes you wonder how Reggie Bush ever happened. The kid with the world at his feet reportedly took handouts from two agents. His parents -- with or without Bush's knowledge -- reportedly were cashing in on their son's talents for, well, cash.

Then it hits you when Quinn's coach asks a rhetorical question about unscrupulous agents.

"Why wouldn't you want a piece of $50 million?" Weis said.

What they don't tell you -- or maybe you've forgotten -- is that major college campuses are overrun with unethical agents and their servants. Maybe more than ever. As the NFL money has gotten bigger, agents have become more brazen.

The Maurice Clarett incident is the best example I can give as I briefly discussed here. Clarett got some bad advice and his life is now a shambles in part because of his loss of eligibility, he has a number of personal demons that he must confront as well. If there are going to be rules about when a college player is eligible to play in the NFL then there needs to rules in place regarding agents and marketing reps restricting contact with players to protect that eligibility.

While it is easy for critics to point to the Reggie Bush scandal, it is also just as easy to point to any number of agent related issues that have splashed the headlines over the years. There have been plenty of critics of Pete Carroll who want to claim that he has no control over and has let USC football turn into a case of the inmates running the asylum. I would disagree, while you may not like his loosey-goosey style, he is not blind to problems of agents having access to players both on and off campus.

In an article by Sam Farmer and David Wharton of the LA Times, it appears that Coach Carroll was so concerned about improper contact by agents that he contacted NFLPA head Gene Upshaw to help rectify the problem.

Upshaw said the union has been working on a solution since he was contacted last year by USC Coach Pete Carroll, even before allegations were made against Bush.

"He was the first coach to bring this to my attention and how bad the problem has become," Upshaw said of Carroll. "He said he was in charge but had no control. He was reaching out for help."...

"Pete has a great program with lots of success, and he is being overrun by agents, marketing people and financial advisors," Upshaw said.

"He cannot control what goes on in the dorm or anyplace else. He is reaching out for help. He is powerless on this issue.

This would seem to me that Coach Carroll is hardly trying to skirt or ignore the rules but is instead trying to protect his program from the very issues it now faces. This is hardly a program that is unconcerned with playing by the rules. In fact, I would say the opposite. Because of its high profile USC is probably more in tune of what could happen than other schools because of the amount of attention USC receives because it is so rich with talent.

I have been pretty up front in what USC should do if improprieties occurred. That being said, if the NCAA is going set forth rules in one area then it needs to address the glaring loop holes that will eventually come into play. Sure, the Bush scandal will make people stand up and take notice and that will hopefully make everyone much more cautious. But that is in the short term. The NCAA needs to get its act together and they need to do it soon so that issues like this do not keep happening.

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