So what’s the answer?
But paying them isn’t the answer. Perhaps we could alter the definition of ‘paying them’ and increase stipends, or allow them to collect royalties of money made from the use of their likeness. There is certainly not a clear answer, but outright paying players can’t be the answer. It’s still college football. I hope it’s still about kids coming to play football, a game that they love, maybe get an education – a bit ambitious – and experience college and campus life. The atmosphere, the passion, the tradition. You can’t get those in pro football because the players are paid.
Is Nick Saban right? Should we monitor and police the agents? Should we attempt to persuade the NFL to discipline agents who are caught colluding and interfering with college players? Perhaps. It seems like a decent idea. If we can eliminate, or at least reduce, the temptation at its source, then it stands to reason that players wouldn’t fall into the trap. But realistically, we’d probably just create an atmosphere where agents would come up with new and cleverer ways of tampering. There’s just too much money at stake.
Also, I think that Saban (which is seems like a good strategy) is diverting the focus from himself and his team, as well as the responsibility of the colleges as a whole. While I agree with Saban that coaches can’t be everywhere, and they do a great job of monitoring their players to an extent, to assert (lookin’ at you Pete Carroll) that the head coach of a top-flight school doesn’t know where his players are and/or getting brand-new houses seems ludicrous. And if it is true, then that’s just unacceptable. You will be scrutinized harder than anyone. You must be aware of this. If I’m being optimistic to think that players still want to play college football for the experience, you are being optimistic to believe that your players are going to be on their best behavior. Keep tabs. Make your players check-in. I don’t care. Do whatever it takes.
So maybe it’s both. Maybe we police the agents. Maybe we do a better job of policing ourselves. Maybe we just do a more thorough job of screening to whom we give our scholarships.