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June 17, 2011

The NCAA needs a Frank Abagnale, Jr.

If you saw the movie Catch Me if You Can, you know the story of Frank Abagnale, Jr. The legendary check forger and con man who was ultimately captured and became an asset to the FBI in their war on check forgery. He later became a security consultant of sorts advising Fortune 500 companies on how to keep the bad guys from stealing from you.

The NCAA is to the point where it needs its own Frank Abagnale, Jr. They need a seasoned out of work coach who knows their rule book inside and out...and more importantly knows where the cracks are. A guy that understands tricks like:
  • Getting quasi-illiterate kids diplomas from the local Mall
  • Funneling cash through area church offering plates
  • Balloon financing programs for cars
  • The ATM Card for Jocks program
  • "The room isn't free we just don't collect the rent" lodging program
  • Using blindness as a learning disability to help basketball players pass the SAT
Each of those is a real example of a recruiting story from the past 10 years. Right now, the NCAA Enforcement Staff is playing checkers while the cheaters are playing chess.

They need an inside man who can help them close the loopholes. I nominate Jackie Sherrill for the position. While not as handsome as charming as Leonardo Dicaprio...he is the kind of guy that would take the bull by the scrotum and attack this problem if paid properly.

Why bring this up?
We're hearing rumblings that a group of rival alumni in Birmingham are playing a game of anything you can do I can do better in regards to pay for play. And the shenanigans certainly are not limited to the shadow of the Vulcan as Ohio State fans well know.

It's one thing for a group of alumni to pool their cash and sneak money to a kid in an organized and disciplined manner. But things aren't quite so subtle any more. Things are getting flat out reckless and careless.

For instance, you shouldn't repeatedly get drunk and tell everyone in ear shot that you paid $50k for the best player in your state. That's not something even your own friends and fans can keep a secret...and no I'm not talking about a GA or Alabama kid.

That said...who can blame kids or their parents for extending their palms? You're broke and sitting in your living room is a coach making more than $2 million a year, a coordinator making more than $500k and sometimes two position coaches who combine to make another $500k. That's four guys who could easily be millionaires sitting in your home asking you to play for them.

What incentive does anyone in the room have not to make sure the kid is taken care of? It's one thing to slip a kid a few bucks, help a parent get a better job or "pay the going rate" as Bear used to say. It's another to have a situation where you're trying to manage a salary cap during your recruiting process.

It's a scary time in college football. And the NCAA needs an entirely different approach to dealing with it.


*I would've nominated Fulmer, but he's too busy applying for the Tennessee AD job.


Senator Blutarsky said...

Honestly, I'm surprised we don't hear more about this kind of talk. It's not like Southern football fans don't get pretty lubricated on occasion.

IveyLeaguer said...

Nice piece. I especially like your list of violations - they are spot on and accurately describe the type things that go on.

Not sure about Jackie Sherrill, he might take money from the schools he was looking into. He IS from Biloxi you know, one of the most corrupt places in the US.

But you are dead right. I would think the NCAA needs an entire team of Frank Abagnale, Jr's.

Ludakit said...

If Jackie Sherrill isn't available, they've got a winner in Lou Holtz. He never met a sanction he didn't like, mainly because he was so good at avoiding it while he was on campus.

Ryan said...

I like the new format... You definitely made the right choice.

What's the rationale behind approving comments instead of just forcing people to login before posting? That would really help to open up conversation like it was before.

Paul Westerdawg said...

Ryan - Long story.

fuelk2 said...

Ryan - Short story - someone posted a link to some gay porn in the comments one time. Not cool.

Second, I guess I might be the only one in the dark here, but can you give us some names to go with these allegations. It's not like you have any obligations of confidentiality. I realize it's rumor, but this is also a blog. I don't think you're required to be a journalist. Or, if you can tell us where to find the rumors ourselves, that'd be great.

Paul Westerdawg said...

Fuelk2 -- Without getting sued....

5 star RB got his diploma via a Sylvan Learning Center type facility located in a mall. Not an SAT prep program. An actual diploma.

Balloon financing for cars...oldest trick in the book.

ATM for Jocks. That was an alleged UT trick. I think that was Juicy Locke's allegation.

Blindness as an LD was Jim Harrick's trick to try and get Alexander Johnson unlimited time to take the SAT.

The uncollected rent trick is the model for hotel gate last year at an SEC East program. The guys had a published rate...they just hadn't paid "yet" until the NCAA called.

And the church offering plate is another old trick.

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