Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dancing with Improper Benefits

By now I would assume you all have read Steven Godfrey's "Meet the Bag Man". It was posted while I was on vacation, I finally got around to reading it earlier this week, and I've purposely let it simmer a couple days. I've really come to respect the work Godfrey puts out.

And that piece is some of his finest for sure. Because it's not easy to expose the underbelly of the institution that is college football and do so without it reading like a TMZ tabloid exposé. It's not easy to get someone who gives thousands of dollars to amateur athletes to come forward and talk about the hows and the whys. And consequently, it's not easy to fact check everything these anonymous sources are feeding you.

Someone once told me that every major college football program cheats, it's just that some are more adept and invested in it. At the time I wasn't so näive as to believe my program was above such reproach and dismiss it while holding fingers in my ears. But as I've come back to that thought over the years, and especially while blogging on such topics that reside in the SEC landscape and specifically its culture of recruiting, I've always wanted a glimpse of how it works.

The how's. The who's. And the why's.

Godfrey gives us that. He doesn't shine a searchlight onto a specific program and its under the table dealings. He doesn't paint a picture of greedy, power tripping boosters giving thousand dollar handshakes. But he does bring the line that these bag men dance along into a clearer focus. Is it about cars and spending money and nice clothes? Well, sure. But it's also about helping families, groceries and fixing a tractor.

Again, I'm sure you've read it already. If not, I highly recommend it. And I would also recommend listening to this episode of The Solid Verbal where Godfrey provides some more details of his investigation and what it was like to write such an article.

Check them out. It's an awkward dance at first, but I want to it a reality you're comfortable with? Is it a tune you can snap your fingers to?