Coming off of a program-altering Sugar Bowl victory along with returning 17 starters (including possible top 2014 NFL Draft pick Teddy Bridgewater), Louisville enters the 2013 season as one of the hottest teams in the country. With what is unanimously considered an overly soft schedule for such a talented team, it will give many of Louisville’s star players a chance to put up some jaw-dropping individual numbers. Aside from Bridgewater, players like WR Devante Parker, S Calvin Pryor, DEs Lorenzo Mauldin and Marcus Smith, LB Preston Brown, and others could all have huge seasons that result in their names ending up on NFL Draft boards. Of course, the bright light of having future NFL players on a team will always be challenged by the dark shadow that follows it: agents. Unfortunately, all agents are not Jerry Maguire and there are plenty of Bob Sugar’s out there who have no problem interfering with a player’s season and amateur status. Charlie Strong is going to have absolutely none of that, as he bluntly explained to Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel.
“I will cut [the agents] off if they continue to contact them,” Strong said. “At the end of season, I will make sure you have no chance to represent our players. Not that I’m being arrogant, but I want to put a statement out there: You continue to mess with our players, this is what we’re going to do.”
“I don’t want any contact until the end of the season,” Strong said. “We’re just trying to do it right. I don’t want [players] to feel like I’m keeping them from talking to an agent. But I don’t know why now, there’s nothing an agent can do for them now.”
Strong said he’s frustrated with agents who are attempting to go through the players and their families and not through the Louisville program. He plans to hold a panel for his players to meet potential agents at the end of the season.
“My whole deal in dealing with it is how they’re contacting the kids, instead of coming through the program,” Strong said. “They’re contacting a kid’s parents in Florida or Georgia instead of us.”
Those are the words of a man who truly cares about his players. This post is not necessarily to bash sports agents, as they have a job to do in a highly competitive job environment. It is tough to fault them for trying to contact these kids. However, it is no secret that many agents out there are not afraid to go beyond the basic code of ethics and morality to get what they want, and what they want is not always in the best interest of the player. All Coach Strong is saying is that he wants things done in an honorable, professional manner within the rules. That is not a lot to ask for, and Strong makes it clear that any agent who goes beyond his wishes just cost themselves a chance to represent any of his players with NFL futures. While there are certain programs (that shall not be named) that not only have no problem having shady agents or runners hanging around their players or campus all the time, but almost seem to encourage it, Strong is determined to make sure Louisville will not be that type of place. Hats off to you, Coach.