As the NCAA continues its suddenly comprehensive attempt to clean up a mess that has been languishing on the carpet for years, one former NFL coach turned Alabama coach, who famously said he wouldn’t be the Alabama coach, is coming close to calling for college football programs to freeze out the NFL, if the pro game can’t keep agents from paying players.
“What the NFL Players Association and the NFL need to do is if any agent
breaks a rule and causes ineligibility for a player, they should
suspend his [agent's] license for a year or two,” Nick Saban told ESPN.com, via CFT. “I’m about
ready for college football to say, ‘Let’s just throw the NFL out. Don’t
let them evaluate players. Don’t let them talk to players. Let them do
it at the combine.’ If they are not going to help us, why should we help
Saban is upset because the Tide could be the latest program to possibly get rolled by the NCAA. Alabama currently is looking into whether defensive end Marcel Dareus blew his eligibility by “taking his talents to South Beach” earlier this summer for a party hosted by an agent.
Saban has picked a valid target, but the aim is wrong. If an agent pays a player, he’s already subject to punishment. The problem is that, previously, neither the NCAA nor the NFLPA did anything to enforce the rules. With the Reggie Bush case prompting an epiphany for the NCAA, the next logical step will be for the union to stand up and take action against agents who pay players before their eligibility ends.
Of course, full and complete and consistent enforcement of that rule could mean that not many agents would be left.
“Right now, agents are screwing it up,” Saban said. “They are taking the
eligibility of players. It’s not right that those players do the wrong
thing. We have a great education process here. We have a full-time
worker who meets with players and their families and does everything
Saban’s threat should get the league’s attention. Pro football teams, as Saban knows, tiptoe on eggshells to cater to college coaches, given that NCAA football provides a free farm system for the NFL. If more coaches begin to call for the NFL to be cut off, the league’s scouting efforts will suffer.
And so the league needs to lean on the union to police the agents. As if the league and the union didn’t already have enough issues between them.