It’s hard to know whether Forbes Magazine reported reality or helped to create it when calling Nick Saban the most powerful coach in all of sports, but reality bit Thursday.
Two years after the magazine Forbesed all over Saban and utilized his newsstand power, the Alabama football coach did sayeth, and “pimps” did become downgraded to “bootleggers.”
One rhetorical shift, and sports agents no longer equate to scum who sell humans for sex. They’re just guys smuggling a little something-something.
Saban went to pains to separate the bad agents from the good during his Thursday spill before reporters, and the bad ones just upgraded. They’re Duke boys, never meanin’ no harm and fightin’ the system like
modern-day Robin Hoods.
It shows that Saban has his power and wields it, too. He wields it artfully when faced with an issue that affects his program, at least.
Calling agents pimps at SEC Media Days got everyone’s attention, enough to bring key players to the table for discussions.
Downgrading the agents’
vermin status was nice diplomacy on the day of the conference call, which Saban acknowledged organizing.
Powerful college coaches, including Urban Meyer and Jim Tressel, line one.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association heads, line two.
Top NCAA minds on the issue and a few agents, line three.
Let’s all talk about this agent problem.
And they did talk.
And he did realize the talk was good.
And talking was good, because itís a first step toward doing the more that needed doing before the agent problem ensnared players at Southern California, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
This talk needed to happen now, according to a reputable Florida lawyer-turned-agent whoís writing a law review on the subject.
ìMy research reveals it is a far bigger problem than I ever thought,î said John M. Phillips, whose clients include former Alabama and Randolph County High School player Ezekial Knight. ìThere are numerous first round draft picks whose agents knowingly violated state registration laws to sign them because of no real fear of retribution.
ìIíve heard of playerís interviewing agents with fees of $5,000 per person to do so.î
Phillips says the agent problem comes down to risk vs. reward, and the reward far outweighs the risk. He wants the NFLPA to stiffen penalties against rogue agents and the federal government to cast a regulatory umbrella.
ìMost states have penalties akin to jaywalking,î Phillips said.
Count Phillips, an Alabama grad, among Sabanís disciples on the issue.
Count Sabanís disciples on the issue a growing number.
Count Sabanís rants as having the power to rally.
He has power because he wins championships. He wields power against threats to his control over his domain.
Thursdayís conference call was just the latest example
ìI hate I wasnít invited,î Phillips mused.
Joe Medley is The Starís sports columnist. He can be reached at 235-3576 or email@example.com.