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
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.