SEC MEDIA DAYS: Slive, SEC coaches call for change with agents

HOOVER, Ala. – SEC commissioner Mike Slive and two of his highest-profile coaches called for change Wednesday in how college football deals with sports agents.
And they called for different types of change.
Slive said it’s time for NCAA rules to be reevaluated, while Alabama coach Nick Saban suggested NFL scouts and coaches could be banned from Crimson Tide practices.
The NFL has to take the lead in changing the culture, Saban says.
“I’m for doing something. The system we have right now is not very good. They can fix it. It can get fixed,” he said.
Florida coach Urban Meyer: “It’s an epidemic right now.”
The future is uncertain for Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus, who may have violated NCAA rules by attending an agent’s party earlier this summer.
Alabama becomes the third SEC school to have agent-related issues this summer, joining Florida and South Carolina.
The NCAA has interviewed South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders and a handful of North Carolina players about attending the same Miami party.
Also, it was revealed this week that former Florida offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey may have received money from an agent between the SEC championship game and the Gators’ bowl game.
NCAA rules prohibit players from taking money from agents or their representatives. Doing so endangers, if any, their remaining eligibility but also puts their schools at risk for sanctions.
“The NCAA rules are as much a problem as a solution,” Slive said. “It’s difficult for student-athletes to obtain advice and properly evaluate their potential for a career in sports.”
Slive said the NCAA needs to shift the focus of its rules from enforcement to an “assistance-based model.”
A committee has been formed to review the current approach, he noted.
Saban, meanwhile, said agents who abuse the current system are “no better than a pimp” and called on the NFL to help make things right.
He suggested agents’ licenses be suspended for a year if they wrongfully entice prospective clients.
“Agents are entrapping and taking advantage of young people at a difficult time in their lives,” Saban said. “Players should have consequences if they take the money, but agents should have consequences too, and right now they have none.”

Glad to see Dooley
n After a contentious relationship with former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin last year, Meyer welcomes the Volunteers’ change at the top.
Tennessee hired Derek Dooley – the son of former Georgia coach Vince Dooley – away from Louisiana Tech after Kiffin left for Southern Cal.
“There’s value in having a good relationship. Game day is a different animal, but we’re all in this profession together,” Meyer said. “I have a lot of respect for the new coach at Tennessee. He’s a high-character guy, and it’s neat to see that.”

Post-Tebow era for Gators
n Meyer said there’s sense of “newness and freshness in Gainesville following the loss of some great players.”
Quarterback Tim Tebow won a Heisman Trophy and was part of two national championships with Florida. Tebow may go down as one of the biggest names in college football history, but Meyer has confidence in his replacement, John Brantley, a fourth-year junior.
He hasn’t had any extra discussions with Brantley about replacing a legend.
“He’s equipped. If he was a freshman or sophomore you might think more about that. We have a real understanding of what John can do.”

Wildcats’ Operation Win
n A native of Franklin, Ky., and a 1986 graduate of the University of Kentucky, Joker Phillips takes his new job seriously.
Having already been named head coach in waiting, he transitions to the big chair this season in place of former coach Rich Brooks who led the Wildcats to four consecutive bowl games and a 30-22 record over his last four seasons.
Kentucky returns seven starters on defense and its skill position players on offense, and Phillips is eager to build on the recent success for a program still overshadowed on campus by its basketball counterpart.
“We want Big Blue Nation to embrace what we’re doing,” he said.
In earning that devotion, Phillips sought assistant coaches with strong recruiting backgrounds in compiling his staff.
He also set forth a three-point plan of goals that listed winning games third. The Wildcats play at Ole Miss on Oct. 2.
“We call it Operation Win. We want to win in the classroom, and our GPA went up four-tenths of a point. We want to mold our young men into productive citizens, and the third thing we want is to win on the field. That’s what Operation Win means to us, and it’s in full effect.”

Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal