Agent Confessions

Read This: Confessions of An Agent on Sports Illustrated

The Bottom Line: Josh Luchs used to be a sports agent for NFL prospects, and as part of being an agent he gave money and favors to players while they were in college. He names some of the players, some of the agents, and other co-conspirators. Cue controversy.

There are a lot of things you could argue from this article: Luch’s motive for writing this, the ethics of naming players, whether he is credible – these are all valid questions.  To me, what lies at the heart of this debate is the (possibly not surprising) issue of players getting money under the table from agents.

One thing that this article taught me. There are players that have a genuine need, but players can be as greedy as the agents giving them money.

The NCAA can sit on Mt. Pius and preach the purity of the student athlete and the corruption of evil agents, but the fact is that they are making hand-over-fist profit on the backs of these students that don’t get paid. Granted, the student athletes often receive scholarships, but given that NCAA Div-I schools graduate 54% of football players, there’s question to the value of the scholarships – which arises the question of whether paying student athletes would help curb this practice. This is definitely a controversial idea, and I’m not advocating that it would fix things, but what other suggestions are there to curb this practice?  The NCAA already threatens to suspend players, should criminal charges be filed against the students and agents for tax evasion?  Should players proved to have ben accepting money be suspended from the NFL?

At the end of the day, is any harm being done?  Is this simply the norm for agents trying to court student athletes – namely football players – to their representation?  Should we be willing to accept that dealings for high draft picks are synonymous with shady agents?

I’m not sure if I have any answers is, but this article has spawned some very interesting discussions throughout sports this week.

Hate the BCS? Take out your frustrations on Twitter

Social media tools are changing the way that we communicate and interact.  Unfortunately for a much-despised BCS (College Football Bowl Championship Series), it makes it all the more easy of playoff fans to take swipes at their enemy.

If you don’t follow college football, here summary: The BCS is a computer-based system that creates the official college football rankings based on a complex set of stats (# of wins, conference position, strength of schedule, etc).  The results are used to determine who will play in the national championship game.  The problem with this is that many times teams with 1 losses have been placed in the championship game, while undefeated teams get shut out.  This year is especially contentious, as there are 6 undefeated teams, but the BCS has pretty much come out and told TCU, Boise State and Cincinnati that they have no shot for the championship game.

With the success of March Madness in College Basketball, combined with the fact that Division 2 & 3 football have a playoff, it’s puzzling why College Football hasn’t adopted a playoff system. One of the popular playoff alternatives is "the Wetzel plan", which puts together a criteria for a 16-team playoff.

Earlier this week, I saw the story in Deadspin how the BCS has employed a new PR firm, whose first actions was to establish a Twitter and Facebook presence in this Social Web World.  This makes enough sense, but they’ve committed two serious errors in judgment: 1) Forgetting that they’re a controversial and much-despised, and would likely have more critics than fans; 2) Actually engaging their critics by baiting them into debate, without fully participating in the conversation.

Hilarity ensues: For the past few days, it’s been a fun game to do a search by the BCS’s username: @InsideTheBCS and see them make a straw man claim, then watch their critics go to town on them without any response.  Check it out below:


What’s been great is that the critics have actually been presenting good arguments.  There are a few personal attacks here and there, but for the most part the responses have been well-reasoned (for as much as you can be in 140 characters or less).  The problem is that @InsideTheBCS doesn’t really respond to any of the valid points, it pretty much continues to make their contentious, canned responses that they’re given phrased differently.  They do respond to some users, but mainly when they have the canned answer in their wheelhouse.

Let this be a social media lesson to brands/organizations, especially unpopular ones: Unless you’re willing to engage in an authentic conversation with your critics, then controversial groups should probably stay away from social media.  Having your PR Firm running this interference is only hurting you in the court of public opinion.  Worse yet, it’s banding your enemies together.  While I’ve always hated the BCS, I really didn’t care much about this issue until three days ago – when it became entertaining to have this conversation.  Something tells me that the people doing PR for the BCS are having a very lousy week.