Blog Entry

Blocking scouts from practice isn't the solution

Posted on: August 11, 2010 12:04 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2010 12:23 pm
 
Alabama head coach Nick Saban is, according to this report from Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, blocking pro scouts from Tide football practices in an attempt to cut down on the distractions to his players caused by player agents. The reigning BCS Champion coach is hoping that by doing so it will help keep his players out of hot water with the NCAA.

The strategy, which conflicting reports by Chase Goodbread of the Tuscaloosa News and Florio claim may or may not be implemented by the University of Florida, as well, has an obvious fault.

Limiting access to pro scouts, really, has nothing to do with the sleazy player agents and runners who are attempting to circumvent the rules.

Perhaps rather than limit scouts who are simply trying to do their job of identifying the rare collegiate athletes potentially capable of playing at the game's highest level, the universities should be continuing to fine-tune the education of their players on the dangers of dealing with agents prematurely.

And the NFLPA, the organization that is supposed to have some control over agents, needs to strongly consider bolstering the penalties to agents found guilty of bribing prospects with inappropriate gifts and travel.

In a very real way, locking scouts out hurts everyone except the agents.

  • The NFL loses on their ability to accurately gauge prospective players on and off the field.
  • The players lose because scouts can't scout them accurately.
  • The university eventually could lose out, as well. Prep players sign with college teams to win, but every bit as important to many players is the school's ability to market their players to the NFL. Making players less accessible to the pros is only going to make the schools less attractive to top prospects.
The argument some will make is that by locking out everyone, including NFL personnel, universities can make sure players aren't being hounded by the undesireable element. Does anyone believe that the runners and agents performing the illegal practices are slipping thousands of dollars in cash (or plane tickets, the keys to cars/homes) to players as they walk off the field from practice?

For scouts, the value in going on the road to scout players in person lies in the ability to scout practices (do players take practice seriously, etc?) and in the interviews with players and the coaching staff. Scouts I know typically try to speak to at least three staff members for each prospect -- the position coach, strength and conditioning coach, and trainer.

If locked out of practice, scouts will still be able to watch most of the film they need to see if the player has the size, speed, strength, etc. to play in the NFL.

What will be more difficult to gauge if locked out is if the players have the intangibles to deal with the money, fame and pressure of the NFL. That, could potentially lead to more highly drafted busts.




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