Charlie Strong has warned players to stay away from his players and their families. Now he'll have to deliver.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Scoreboard Watching Before The Fireworks Pop:
*Scratch the story line that Charlie Strong does not have a tough opponent on Louisville's 2013 schedule. Strong has found an extremely formidable opponent – player agents.
Strong delivered strong comments to Pete Thamel in this story on SI.com Tuesday, threatening to make certain that none of his players would sign with any agent that contacts his guys before Louisville's 2013 season is over. According to Thamel, the U of L athletic department sent a letter to agents asking them to wait until the end of the 2013 season before they try to cut deals with players or their families.
It's a terrific response. Strong must be 110 percent annoyed to speak out with this much sizzle. I hope he delivers. Meddling by agents and their pals (runners) with underclassmen remains a colossal problem in college football and basketball.
But will Strong be able to deliver?
Hard to say. Agents have been threatened before – and then shrugged off the threats and worked on players regardless of what a coach says. It was only three years ago when Alabama football coach Nick Saban went on a rant and called them "pimps."
They do what they do even though they know the coach doesn't like it. The risk is obviously worth the reward. Representing a first- or second-round pick has its benefits.
"I don't want any contact until the end of the season," Strong said to Thamel in the story. "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."
There's plenty an agent can do for a player and his family now. It would be against NCAA rules. But they could do it. And they have done it at many schools. Cars, money, clothes, jewelry ... stop me when you've heard enough.
This isn't a new problem. This has been going on for years. And years. And years. I believe Nick Saban went on a similar rant several years ago. Basketball programs have been scratched from the record book because of the interactions of players and agents.
If you want to know why, read this story about how the entire agents and underclassmen system has worked in the past.
*I'm sure that one day Richard Pitino would love to follow his father onto the cover of Sports Illustrated. That's going to take some time. But Richard has already earned his first cover at the University of Minnesota. He's featured on the front of Basketball Times.
BT editor and publisher John Akers wrote the story. The story is built around the premise that Richard has the opportunity to deliver on the best qualities of both of his mentors – his father, Rick, and Florida coach Billy Donovan.
I'll use a quote from the story by Manhattan coach Steve Masiello to explain – at least until I get Akers to send me a story link that isn't broken.
"He's been able to differentiate between the good and the bad and is kind of the best of everyone," Masiello said. "It's a very good thing."
*I keep waiting for the University of Louisville baseball team's three starting pitchers from the 2013 season to make their professional debuts. It hasn't happened yet.
Dace Kime has been assigned to Cleveland's rookie league team in the New York-Penn League. Jeff Thompson and Chad Green are supposed to pitch for Detroit's team in the Gulf Coast League. Hasn't happened.