NCAA Football News

Is College Football's 'Bag Man' Phenomenon Really Such a Bad Thing?

Steven Godfrey of SBNation penned an extraordinary long-form piece titled "Meet the Bag Man: How to buy college football players, in the words of the man who delivers the money." It was a striking expose in which Godfrey talked at length with an unnamed "bag man" about the standards and practices when it comes to money flowing into the pockets of college football players in the SEC.

In the piece Godfrey publicized the underground culture that insiders would never dare discuss with outsiders. Simply put, he gave readers a look at the topics that college football players really talk about. Whether it is recruits comparing notes about the "perks" at certain schools or former players recalling the "help" that came out of nowhere, fans got an inside view of what it looks like from the other side. Not message board rumors. Not disgruntled players hoping to bring someone down. Not a coach reporting another coach because he lost a recruiting battle. No, this was an unbridled look at how the money changes hands and, more importantly, the way it flows from one area to another.

Godfrey has sparked his own news event, including an appearance on The Paul Finebaum Show and an "Ask Me Anything" with Reddit scheduled. His facts are undeniable, but the morality of it all is an interesting element worth delving into and examining. Undoubtedly, the topic of "How to buy college football players" will leave a bad taste in some folks' mouths. However, as Godfrey showed, it is far more than just about big money and throwing it around at stud players. It's a delicate ecosystem of funding, relationships and hopes of upward mobility. An ecosystem where against the rules is not synonymous with bad. Where it is a facet of the business structure, and not necessarily a cause for outrage.

Who really gets hurt if, as Godfrey mentions, a "bag man" gives a recruit money to fix the family tractor?

Certainly, the bag men, coaches and schools want to win, but on the players' side, winning is rivaled by family stability, simply going to college and having a relatively normal collegiate experience.

Those goals align. Programs need talent. Talents need school, and football is often their way in. It is that synergy that creates a near-symbiotic relationship between the two sides. And relationship is key, because more than money, both sides have to grow to trust the other for the preliminary seed to grow.

Meanwhile, the judgment from the outside is real. Non-participants discussing rules and glorifying amateurism. Of course it's better to let that 5-star's family tractor go unfixed than it is to help his family and reap the benefits. Surely, giving that 4-star's mom a better job to make School A more attractive is poor form compared to allowing her to spin her wheels to make ends meet.

At least that is what those bound to the NCAA structure believe.

Luckily, for those involved, the NCAA structure is not a moral barometer. Getting caught is bad, but offering the help and keeping it off the books is acceptable and tends to benefit the kids, all while sometimes leading to championships.

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Alabama Football: Week 3 Spring Practice Stock Report

With Alabama’s A-Day spring game set for April 19, the Tide are nearing the conclusion of spring practice.

A critical loss in the secondary and the fallout from the Tide’s first scrimmage held last Saturday headline the biggest news of the week.

 

News of the Week

As detailed by Cliff Kirkpatrick of the Montgomery Advertiser, Nick Saban expressed optimism following the scrimmage.

“I was really pleased with the effort and intensity the players had,” Saban said. “I really like the attitude of this team in terms of how they go about what they try to do, how they work, the effort that they give and the mental and physical toughness that we play with.”

The biggest headliners on offense were quarterback Blake Sims and receiver Amari Cooper, while linebackers Trey DePriest and Denzel Devall led the charge defensively.

Cooper, who caught 10 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns, looks primed to have a monster season under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin.

However, the news wasn’t all good. Sophomore corner Eddie Jackson suffered a torn ACL in a non-contact drill during the scrimmage, according to ESPN’s Alex Scarborough.

Jackson’s injury means a corner rotation already thin on experience will be without a key contributor—one who was seeing reps with the first team for a majority of the spring—for the foreseeable future.

Another distraction for the Tide came on Thursday when junior linebacker Dillon Lee was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, according to Andrew Gribble of AL.com.

In a statement released by Alabama’s media relations department, Saban said he will handle the situation appropriately, "once I’ve had a chance to review all of the information.”

Lee has been one of the spring’s most notable standouts, and his off-field mishap is concerning for a team looking to regain its focus and discipline heading into the season.

 

Sims Takes Charge

While Saban has repeated that the quarterback competition is one that will play out well into fall camp, Sims took a step forward in separating himself from the pack in the first scrimmage.

The senior went 16-of-23 for 227 yards and two scores with no interceptions. Those numbers were good enough to get the attention of Saban, who praised Sims for “taking some command,” as noted by Scarborough.

Considering Sims was able to hurt the defense by making big plays through the air, his continued development as a passer gives the Tide’s offense an added dimension when his ability to create plays with his legs factor into the equation.

“There are two plays with Blake: the one they call on offense and then when that one doesn't go right, it's the one he makes with his feet,” senior safety Nick Perry said.

If Sims continues to make progress, he has a strong chance of exiting the spring as the prime challenger to incoming transfer Jacob Coker when fall camp begins in August.

 

Defensive Notes

Last week’s report featured a note on Saban’s unhappiness with the perceived depth and talent along the defensive line. However, Saban clarified his thoughts on that position during a visit to Mobile for a charity dinner, according to AL.com’s Mike Herndon.

I was told what a great defensive line we have, by someone in your position. So I asked: 'What's the basis of your criteria that you're using to make this assessment?' And he says: 'Well, it looks that way on paper.' So, I just kind of took offense to that and said that we're not satisfied with how they're playing, but we're looking forward to them getting better. And they are getting better, and I think probably will be better, more athletic than we were a year ago.

Elsewhere, despite the Tide’s base defense being a 3-4 scheme, Alabama is spending more snaps in nickel sets due to the number of teams using spread offenses with three and four receiver sets.

During the first two practices earlier this week, the Tide’s nickel package featured Cyrus Jones and Bradley Sylve at the corners, Landon Collins and Geno Smith at safety with Jarrick Williams at star, according to Gribble.

With the injury to Jackson and freshman Tony Brown nursing a shoulder injury, the rotation at corner will be worth monitoring as A-Day approaches. Smith getting a chance to work alongside Collins at safety is also a new development that could stick depending on how things play out until the end of spring.

 

What’s Next

Spring practice is nearing its conclusion, and the next date to pay attention to is Saturday when the Tide will hold their second scrimmage, according to Michael Casagrande of AL.com.

The position battles at critical spots such as offensive line, defensive end, linebacker and at various spots in the secondary are ones to watch over the final handful of practices.

With precious few opportunities for players to leave a lasting impression on the coaching staff, expect the intensity to pick up with this scrimmage and the subsequent practices leading up to next weekend’s spring game.

 

 

 

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Nebraska Football: Complete Spring Game Preview

Nebraska football fans know it’s close—so close they can almost taste it. This Saturday, Memorial Stadium will fill up with the faithful once again to watch the spring game, the annual last gasp of football before a long summer.

So if you want to get the most out of this last look at Nebraska football until August, make sure that you’re prepared. Here’s all the information you’ll need.

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Dabo Swinney Gives 2017 WR Keyshawn Johnson Jr. Clemson Offer

Keyshawn Johnson Jr.'s recruitment has been heating up, as the 2017 WR has fielded offers from top programs such as Ohio State, Florida State and Arizona State. 

You may now add Clemson to the list. The 6'1", 180-pound ninth grader has yet to record a varsity reception, but his potential has the scouts drooling. 

Johnson Jr. and fellow class of 2017 prospect Darnay Holmes took a visit to Clemson recently and met with Dabo Swinney and offensive coordinator Chad Morris.  

Holmes, a 5'11", 180-pound athlete, whose father, Darick Holmes, was an NFL running back for five seasons, was also offered a scholarship to Clemson. 

Both Johnson Jr. and Holmes have a long way to go before college, but with their NFL pedigree, they should have a leg up on the competition. 

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