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The almost comprehensive taxonomy of cheating in College Football, PART I & II

Discussion in 'GC Hall of Fame' started by OklahomaGator, Dec 22, 2020.

  1. OklahomaGator

    OklahomaGator Jedi Administrator Moderator VIP Member

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    I combined both parts of this from @sflagator and I will put it in the Hall of Fame forum.

    I thought I'd start a thread detailing how the system of cheating occurs in College Football, and explaining how the system works (as I've seen it). At the outset, you need to realize that what happens today is different than what happened even 10 years ago, and the "$100 handshake" of the 80's and 90's is almost quaint these days. I'm also not going to talk about minor violations like coaches texting across various platforms to avoid NCAA restrictions and so forth - I'm focusing on money. So here goes, and apologies because this is going to be long, and I'm going to break it down into posts.

    We need to initially discuss the cast of characters:

    1. The Players
    2. The family (parents, uncles, cousins, siblings)
    3. Boosters
    4. Agents and financial managers
    5. People who want to be agents and financial managers
    6. "Influence peddlers"
    7. Youth coaches
    8. Assistant college coaches
    9. Head college coaches
    10. Other people who provide benefits for some reason

    These people are intertwined with each other - there is no easy straight-line path of money down up the chain, which is why it can be confusing. It is exceedingly rare that a school sends a "bagman" directly to a player's house with a bunch of money. The path is twisted, with every person along the way looking out for themselves a little.

    PART 1: BEFORE COLLEGE

    Based on my experience, an elite HS player is already getting money and benefits from a variety of places, few of which are connected to a particular school. His family might also be getting money or benefits. There are many motivations for this. There's usually a few guys in the community with money and there's simply reputation benefit from associating with and being known to provide for star athletes. There might be locals who just want to help the family. There are runners and "street agents" who want to actually have influence or at least want others to think they have influence. If a kid is an otherworldly talent there are actual agents and financial managers (and people who want to be agents and financial managers) will get in early directly with the kid.

    In addition there are the youth coaches - either in or outside the High School system might be paying the kid or the kid's family. In my experience the youth coaches are very important to this system.

    Money obviously comes from college programs too, but not as directly as you think. Sometimes the youth coach is trying to buy influence with the kid for the youth coach's own financial gain - this is because a youth coach can get money for himself and his program from various sources if he has a track record of help delivering kids. A youth coach can even get money if he simply appears to have a good track record for delivering kids. For example, lets say a 7-on-7 coach has a really good player, and Clemson, Florida, FSU, and LSU all want him. Every college assistant recruiting the kid shows up and talks to that coach. The coach tells them all he has influence over where the kid goes, and maybe he really does. The youth coach wants to take the team on a trip but doesn't have the money. Who does he call? All of those assistants, of course (or possibly the local street agent who stands in so the assistant doesn't have to get their hands dirty). Let's say the kid picks Clemson, and the team needs new uniforms. Who does he call then? The Clemson assistant, of course. The Clemson assistant, thinking the youth coach might have swayed the kid to Clemson and he might not do so with other players in the future, feels obligated to help out. The benefit for Clemson is if they get a bunch of great kids from the same youth coach, suddenly they've got a "pipeline" in a certain area, and the youth coach starts to be an unwavering Clemson influence because of the support he receives. The assistant coach is an "ace recruiter" and gets a better job. As I describe, the assistant coaches don't typically help fund anything directly; either they give their own money to someone else to deliver, or they refer the youth coach to a known financial source (a runner, a street agent, a booster, etc)

    Youth coaches also get money from agents (or their "street" representatives) the same way. If a youth coach consistently has a lot of high level players, agents will take notice and they try to get on the radar early.

    Youth coaches (both HS and non-HS) get money from boosters, usually via assistant coaches, to steer kids to certain schools. It works in pretty much the same way as described above. A kid can also get money this way. It is almost always arranged by assistant coaches who refer the kid or youth coach to the booster. To make things even more confusing, some college assistants have their own "street representatives" for lack of a better term. If an assistant coach is from a certain hot recruiting area, he's probably got friends or family who will do the dirty work for him. So lets say a youth coach needs money . . . he might mention it to the assistant coach's known street rep., who then mentions it to the assistant coach, who then refers the street rep to a certain booster's rep. The money then flows from the booster to the booster's rep to the assistant coach's street rep to the youth coach, then maybe to the kid. Nobody works for free, so everyone skims along the way. Now you are hopefully starting to see why this is so difficult to police.

    What is rare is for an assistant coach to give money directly to a player. It's much easier and safer to give it to a youth coach, a street agent, or let a booster funnel money at the assistant coaches' direction. Assistant coaches do help set these things up though. An assistant's life blood is either being a great coach or being a great recruiter, or both on rare occasions. If an assistant is trying to make his reputation as a recruiter he may or may not participate in this system, but he certainly knows about it. If he is participating, it is not unusual for an assistant coach to pay money out of his own pocket. After all, he's investing in his own "ace recruiter" reputation, right?

    The most interesting guys to me are guys who are just straight influence peddlers. They make non-top-50 kids think they can get them scholarship offers from the best schools (and sometimes they can); they make youth coaches think they can deliver money, players, and access to assistant coaches; they make college coaches think they can deliver players; they make agents and financial managers (or wanna-be's) think they can deliver life-changing clients; they make players and their families think they can deliver money, especially in desperate times. This is how they make a living (by skimming money every time it flows in some direction) - it's easy to tell a kid he's getting $25k to go somewhere, and then ask for $35k. They also act as street representatives for several parties at the same time. If a guy gets a track record delivering players, or can just spin a myth that he can deliver players, he can make it as an influence peddler. In my experience these guys are street smart hustlers who usually also work on-and-off as coaches or in some other businesses, but their main job is convincing everyone they should get paid for their influence (a certain recently-terminated UF assistant fits this category, IMO).

    Also interesting is that all of these different people come together at times and morph around like an amoeba. For example, lets say there's a top kid whose family is legit looking for money, say $100k, to attend a college. Multiple colleges are in the picture. Influence peddler is looking to get paid. The kid's Youth Coach needs or wants some money. Wannabe Agent wants to sign the kid in 4 years. Real Agent wants the same. The kids brother is acting as his rep with all these people and also wants to get paid. An Assistant Coach from a school (let's call it "Slobbern") is really motivated to deliver from his home area and make a name for himself as a recruiter. So what happens? Kid's brother goes to influence peddler and youth coach saying "we need $100k." Influence peddler calls Slobbern assistant coach (or his rep) and says "here's your chance, but I need $120k" because he's added 20% for himself. However, Slobbern assistant coach doesn't have $120k, so he contacts agent and maybe a Booster.. Meanwhile youth coach calls Slobbern assistant and claims he can deliver the kid but he needs money for a team bus trip to Pahokee. Slobbern coach doesn't want to pay out of pocket so he refers youth coach to Wannabe Agent, or simply tells Booster and Agent he needs more money. Influence Peddler or family have or manufacture a dire reason they need some of the money right now (say $20k). Assistant coach gets $20k from somewhere, pulls some out of his own pocket, gives some to his hometown friend who skims $2k, gives the rest to the Influence Peddler who skims $3k, Influence Peddler delivers $15k to the family with "sorry that's what we've got right now, more is coming later." And so on. Then, maybe Booster or Agent or both deliver some money (but never the full asking price, in my experience), via a street agent, to Influence Peddler or Youth Coach, who passes 80% to the family while pocketing some for themselves. At the end of the day, if the kid signs with Slobbern, everyone wins: Kid gets money, Influence Peddler and Youth Coach now have a rep. for delivering kids, Slobbern assistant has a rep for recruiting, Booster got to contribute for his school, Agent gets early influence, all middlemen get paid a little.

    To make things more insane, take that situation and double or triple it, because more than one school will be in the game at the same time.

    Also, I didn't mention head coaches because they are not in this (unless they are really, really stupid). They know what goes on but they don't need to be involved, so they aren't usually

    Ok so sorry for the delay but anyone in the game thread knows I was ripped on Saturday and in no shape to do anything Sunday. Upon review my posts in the game thread were . . . interesting, although I still maintain I would have bought SOG two pizzas a week if we won.

    On a more relevant note, I am going to move on here to PART II - CHEATING WHEN THE PLAYER IS IN SCHOOL. I left some recruiting shenanigans out in the interest of space because I was trying to give you the big picture, hopefully I accomplished that. But the cheating doesn't stop there. Once a kid commits to a school and actually signs, it's more of the same.

    So lets start with a premise that might surprise you. No matter how good they are, 90%+ of college football players are essentially broke college students. Probably 80% are even worse off than that. Even if they got a big payment to sign, where did that money go? Parents probably had bills to pay, so no kid is going to say no to that. Kids buy dumb shit - shoes and clothes and stuff for their cars and such. They give money to their girlfriends. They go eat at Red Lobster for a week. They might buy a car. Whatever. By the time they get to school that money is usually gone. So usually, these kids aren't looking for big money, they are just looking for something to get them through each month or help them with unexpected major expenses.

    An example where we can name names: Tunsil at Ole Miss. He was a known first rounder who got a big payment to sign (allegedly). He was getting paid about $4,000 / month from one source and probably enough $2,500 / month from various other sources (allegedly). And yet he was texting his coaches to help with money (allegedly) because he kept running out - and if you've seen those text messages, the coaches were kind of like "wtf, why are you coming to me, call this other guy" (I guess also allegedly?).

    So anyway, lets talk about who pays / gets paid when a kid is in school. The name of the game now is ACCESS. Kids are no longer potentially good while they are in school (see Nu'Keese Richardon for someone who got paid to go somewhere but was never actually good in college). They now have a track record, something tangible. They're out of Schrodenger's Box. People want access to the kids who are good. We'll start with who gets paid outside of the player himself.

    We have pretty much the same cast of characters as last time. Once a kid is in school the youth coaches become less important, but are still in the game because they can frequently provide access. So lets say an agent or a wannabe agent sees some kid balling out and wants to get a player's number. Who do they call? Often it's the youth coach. It's the same deal as last time - agent calls and asks for help, youth coach says "sure thing, and oh by the way my team needs new jerseys," youth coach gets some money from either the agent or the agent's runner. As I said in the first installment we usually aren't talking about a ton of money here, and the phone number is important because there isn't really any other way to get a kid. These guys get BOMBARDED on social media - they ignore pretty much any message from someone they don't already know unless the message is from some hot girl.

    Sometimes assistant coaches or managers at the college level are in on this deal as well. They have contact info or access they will help a guy get in contact with a star player. Many an assistant coach or student manager has supplemented their income this way. They usually don't get paid directly - the manager might get hired off-season for what the Sopranos used to call a "no show / no work" position. Assistants can't really take outside jobs in the same way but there are lots of creative ways to get them money. To be honest though, I have the vast majority found assistant coaches to not really be for sale this way - they take their roles guiding kids seriously. However, I am convinced a recently fired SEC assistant has been selling access for years (so no, we should not hire him despite his rep as an ace recruiter).

    The third group who get paid for access to a player are guys who I'll call "runners" although who they are runners for can sometimes be an open question. Certain agents, and definitely the ones you've heard about from S. Florida, have guys in college towns who are known on the street to be associated with the agent. These are younger, cooler guys with a stack of money who can hand out a little cash now and then. Because let's face it, how does your average 50-year-old (probably white) agent communicate with a 19 year old kid without coming across like a total fleeb. Spoiler: he can't. Far better make the big play to the kid and his family ("I have the BEST connections, I KNOW the business, I GUARANTEE you will get the best training, etc.") and let your local guy handle most of the day tot day communication with some cash thrown in to boot. Most of the time, this is just a "hey, AGENT X will take care of you, he wanted me to give you a little advance." At the other extreme, a kid is having all of his expenses paid by the runner (see: Jevon Kearse). But there's a funny thing about these runners, they aren't always loyal. Sometimes, if a runner doesn't think he's getting enough $$$ from the agent + whatever the runner is skimming, he might take all his contacts and go work for another guy. That's why sometimes you see a group of guys from one school sign with a certain agency one year, and then suddenly that agency can't sign anyone from the same school the next year. Their runner bolted for greener pastures.

    Now lets talk about who pays players. This is long list, though like I said before there is probably less money involved than you think, and it's often paid out monthly. Most of what I've seen filters through locals or the aforementioned runners, and the source of the funds is almost always agents or boosters. Boosters are more likely to pony up one-time payments, and agents are more likely to put a kid on a stipend. Kids work them both.

    Money can come from a variety of sources, but a lot of the kids - while signaling they are definitely up for some free money - don't usually name a specific price. I've seen it work this way: Agent (or more often wannabe agent) really wants to sign a great RB, lets call him Snark Bingram. There's some runner who claims he knows Snark from way back. He says to WBee Agent "hey, I can get you in with Snark." WBee Agent, who has been flitting about the periphery for a while but wants a big score says "cool, what does he want?" Runner says "$2,000 a month should do it." So WBee Agent gives runner the $2,000 each month. Runner, who is well known among players at Snark's school, delivers Snark $1,500 a month and keeps $500 for himself, telling Snark "WB Agent is a great guy, you should go with him." But Snark never named a price (directly) and he didn't make any promises to anyone, and maybe texts with WBAgent every once in a while ("Great game bro!" / "hey, thx man") but WBAgent is taking it on faith from Runner that Snark will sign with him (guess what, Snark didn't - he was getting $$ from others at the same time).

    As I mentioned above, kids sometimes want something specific. In this particular category, kids are not shy about asking for help. For example, lets say a well-known UF CB wants to take his girlfriend to the beach for Valentine's Day. He's got some $$ but he doesn't want to spend it. There's been an agent wannabe sniffing around. Kid is friendly with WBAgent has spent time hanging out with him, but doesn't know him that well. So CB texts agent "hey I want to take my girl to Miami for Valentine's Day, can you help me out?" Well of course the WBAgent can. But how to do it without committing a felony? WBAgent books the room directly, but in the girlfriend's name. Similarly, WBAgent wires some money to the GF. Seems like that might take some of the romance out of it, but apparently neither CB nor his girl cares too much. It's super simple, but it makes it super hard to track unless you are following the CB around. Kids also like to go places with their friends, so agent or runner gets the kid money directly so he can book his ticket, and then buys his friends tickets directly and books the room, etc., in their names.

    If the kid doesn't have contacts with agents or runners, they'll often know of a booster or two, either through events or through assistant coaches. If a kid needs money for something (or just wants some money) and he can't get it from an agent or runner in this day and age, he's probably not a very good player. But lets say he strikes out. certain assistant coaches and student managers usually know who a kid can call. They just refer the kid along. Assistants these days (at most schools) don't make it a habit to give out money, although some have been known to dole out cash from time to time.

    Here's another example. Well known player drives a nice used car that he actually bought himself. It's a fancy euro brand, but older, and the transmission fails while he is driving back to school at a place in the south we'll call Phlegmson. New transmission is $5,000.00. So what does he do? He calls his position coach, who says "call this dude," but the dude can't be reached and the kid is stuck in the hinterlands of the Florida Turnpike. So he calls his dad, who in turn calls another WBAgent, who pays the tab directly. Again, simplistic but unless someone knows exactly where the kid broke down and who exactly fixed the car, how do you prove it?


    This last story brings up another important point: There's a third category of people getting paid - the families. Often not directly, and not a lot. But oftentimes Agents and runners get with the families of top guys for a couple of reasons. First, the dad or uncle or whoever obviously has influence with the kid. But second, the parent of a star player often has juice with other kids. If you are an agent and you can ID the "Alpha parent" and get them on your side, you can make it rain for a while. The car story above is a big hit - most of the time family members are just looking for a way to get to and pay for away games. The agent will book flights and rooms for the family.

    We all know about the big dollar items - cars for kids, jobs for family members, etc. Those things are un-policeable. If a kid buys a car in his name and the buy-here pay-here lot says he's making the payments, how do you prove he isn't (unless you are the FBI). If a family member decides they want to move and get a job in the college town where their kid is now playing, how do you prove the hiring isn't legit? As long as they actually show up at the job, who is to say?

    This is not meant to be comprehensive - I kind of tried to take a sampling in the interest of brevity. I failed somewhat. But hopefully this gives you an idea of how cheating happens at the college level once a kid is actually in school.