Posted by Adam Jacobi
Back when the news about Gary Wichard, John Blake, and the now-infamous Miami party first hit, it was only remarkable in that all the people involved went ahead with the whole deal because they assumed they'd get away with it. And being that Wichard's been in the business for decades, it's unlikely that this was his first foray into shady business.
And now that we've all seen the article penned by former agent John Luchs, we can see exactly why everyone thought it was a good idea: agents commit NCAA violations all the time. Luchs cops to giving cash or benefits to over 30 different college players over the course of seven years, and not once was he or the player in question ever disciplined in any respect.
And yet, Luchs doesn't have any remorse about his work as an agent, and that's probably smart; paying players is only damaging insofar as it's illegal, not because it actually has any debilitating effect on the player's ability to perform on the football.
Still, there's a case to be made for following the rules here; while Luchs lands high-caliber players and high draft picks all over the place, the level of NFL success was higher for the guys who refused Luchs' money; those players include Keyshawn Johnson, Dana Stubblefield, and Jonathan Ogden (though Ogden did accept some concert tickets, and that's definitely a story worth reading). Meanwhile, Luchs' most successful client who took money was probably either Tony Banks or Jamir Miller; other clients included high-round draft picks Ryan Leaf, Joel Steed, and Kanavis McGhee. Which, yeah.
The most damaging part of the story, in fact, is the part involving Gary Wichard, and that's even considering the fact that Luchs credits Wichard with telling him not to pay players. It's still bad, and here's why:
Gary used his contacts in the coaching community to help him get players. This has recently come into public view, as the NCAA and the state of North Carolina are investigating the Tar Heels football program and whether John Blake, a Carolina assistant coach since 2007, steered players to Gary and received money from him. It's no secret in the agent business that some college coaches steer players to certain agents. I laughed when I heard Gary deny in the media that John ever worked with Pro Tect.
When I was with Gary, John worked hand in hand with us, and Gary called him his "partner." John was the defensive line coach of the Dallas Cowboys when they won Super Bowls XXVIII and XXX, and the head coach at Oklahoma from '96 through '98. He was one of the best recruiters I'd ever seen. He was just electric, and I leveraged him to get clients whenever I could.
So, yes. John Blake is completely radioactive now, and while it's nice to hear Butch Davis tell people he regrets trusting John Blake, it's really a wonder that Davis even trusted him in the first place; Blake's either a genius at hiding his involvement with Wichard, or Davis ignored a lot of red flags in hiring the former Oklahoma head man.