Is Roquan Smith ready to be a test case?

Andy Staples poses an interesting scenario:

That kind of secret gets kept at a lot of places and revealed after Signing Day, by which point prospects have already signed the worst contract in American sports and relinquished their right to be recruited by other schools. Those secrets were kept this year. At Ohio State, running backs coach Stan Drayton was planning to go to the Chicago Bears. At Florida, defensive line coach Terrell Williams was heading to the Miami Dolphins. The Gators were ready to replace him with Texas defensive line coach Chris Rumph. None of this was supposed to get out until Thursday, but Marvez, who covers the NFL and therefore works outside the College Football Industrial Complex, simply reported the info he was told by a reliable source Wednesday. He gave Smith a chance to do what every top-100 football recruit in the country should every year: Refuse to sign the NLI.

That’s precisely what Harold plans to suggest to Smith and his family. Smith smartly signed with no one Wednesday. He can wait until April 1 to sign the NLI, but doesn’t have to sign it at all (more on that later). Smith is still being recruited hard by UCLA, Georgia, Michigan and Texas A&M. He has options. He also has the chance to be a trailblazer and avoid the NLI entirely. “I’m going to talk to his family and see if that’s what they’d like to do — if that’s an option they’d like to explore,” Harold said.

That’s some option.

Though most players don’t realize it, they do not have to sign the NLI to receive a scholarship. They need only sign a financial aid agreement at their chosen school. The financial aid paperwork provides (almost) the same guarantee of a scholarship as the NLI, but unlike the NLI, it doesn’t strip the player of the only leverage he’ll have until he graduates from college.

Why is the NLI the worst contract in American sports? It requires players to sign away their right to be recruited by other schools. If they don’t enroll at the school with which they signed, they forfeit a year of eligibility. Not a redshirt year, but one of their four years to play. In return, the NLI guarantees the player nothing.

Sure, the NLI claims to guarantee a scholarship, but that simply isn’t true. That is contingent on the player being admitted to the school and on the football program staying below the 85-scholarship limit. A school can dump the player at any point between Signing Day and preseason camp, and he would have no recourse. This guarantee is no different than the one on a conference-approved financial aid form, but it costs the player something the financial aid agreement does not.

The real question, of course, isn’t so much whether Smith wants to become a trailblazer – nothing he’s done so far strikes me as thinking he’s the type, but let that pass for the moment – as it is whether there’s a school out there eager enough for his services to allow him to become a trailblazer.  ‘Cause it would be a pretty big deal.

It would be nice if Smith could follow the path of some college basketball stars and decline to sign the NLI. Only that would be terribly risky. He is just one player, and coaches may be more interested in protecting an arrangement tilted ludicrously in their favor than in nabbing a highly touted linebacker. Maybe the Bruins, Bulldogs, Wolverines and Aggies would decide he isn’t worth the potential hit to the system. Of course, given the intensity with which UCLA’s Jim Mora, Georgia’s Mark Richt, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin recruit, it seems unlikely that all would pass on a player they clearly want.

But if they all did?  Well, that might open up another can of worms.

… Also, if all these competitors in the market for college football talent did conspire to shun a player they obviously covet, then Smith might get a call from Michael Hausfeld or Jeffrey Kessler. Hausfeld is the attorney who cleaned the NCAA’s clock in the O’Bannon case. Kessler is the attorney who hopes to leave a smoking crater in Indianapolis where the NCAA headquarters currently sit with his Jenkins v. NCAA case.

So I guess it all depends on whether Smith asks the question in the first place.  That’s unlikely.  It sure is interesting that Harold is raising the possibility, though.  Even more interesting will be seeing who’s paying attention.

37 Comments

Filed under Recruiting

37 responses to “Is Roquan Smith ready to be a test case?

  1. A10Penny

    Talk me off the ledge here, because my support of players in this is probably clouding my logic. But this is one of the areas I would like to see UGA/CMR take the lead on the issue and offer the financial aid agreement. Haven’t they already done this with member(s) of the ’15 or ’16 class?

    Like

    • Macallanlover

      That sounds like a good idea but wouldn’t it require Smith to dump the school that did that to demonstrate the value of the change? Just as soon not be that part of trailblazing if we were the ones that offered the Financial Aid Agreement and got crapped on in July. Give the last remaining scholly to an athlete that wants to be in Athens and help us win a title in 2015.

      Like

    • Bazooka Joe

      Do it, do it…… implode the system ! Do it…..

      Like

  2. Rick

    The idea that all college programs would collude to prevent a 5-star player from doing this is absolutely ludicrous. Seriously – have we not been paying attention to what colleges will do to sign a 5-star? Have we not seen what transgressions they will overlook?

    Every tenet of game theory and economics indicates that type of collusion is absolutely, 100% impossible. Roquan Smith, and anyone of equal or superior talent, can wait as long as they damned well please and will have a dozen suitors lining up, including schools that don’t even have a scholly but will do whatever it takes to free one up the second he expresses interest.

    Like

    • reipar

      +1. That was very lazy writing on the part of Staples. He makes a vague threat about litigation insinuating collusion and then turns right around and states even if Bama decided to pass on this type of player you know Arkansas or Miss State would sign him. I wonder if he knows you have to actually collude in order to have collusion.

      Like

  3. Lrgk9

    Corporate Cosmology Indeed

    Add The NCAA (USA College President’s Cartel) and Mickey Moolah’s ESPN. to this list…

    Like

  4. Russ

    I’d love to see it. Didn’t realize there were bb players that didn’t sign .

    Like

  5. 69Dawg

    You know one of these days we will miss the law and order days. Barring congress stepping in (only if they think there are votes or money involved), the courts are going to leave that smoking ruin. At which point college football is going to become the wild wild west. It will be open season on any recruit/player at any time, the best we can hope for is McFuggle will keep our player salaries competitive.

    Like

    • Cojones

      Folks are pushing it before conjuring the cure for a worse disease. They don’t even have a plan in mind as to how to control the desired end and won’t comment to have such a plan shot at for polishing. They just want to stake their claim for being more player-sensitive than the next fellow (as to paying players) sans a firm plan as to what that may do to cfb nor what open-ended recruiting rules (or lack thereof) would do. Their point is not well-ended nor completed.

      Like

      • NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma is thirty years old now, C. Just how long do you think the schools need to get their collective shit together on the commercialization of college athletics?

        Like

        • Cojones

          Good point and we are in it up to our ass since we were partnered with Ok. I can’t conjure up a plan that could satisfy this conundrum. I think the solution is beyond discussion and most of my “plan” comments come from frustration of only seeing a “chaotic end” as Mac states. I think that we both want what you want, but are being conservative about embracing it fully until a solution that’s satisfactory to all cfb is presented.

          Like

          • I hear where you’re coming from. It’s just that it’s very clear that the schools are going to protect the status quo with all their might until they literally have no other choice. That’s not a formula for making smooth transitions.

            Remember, the NCAA could have gotten out of O’Bannon for peanuts if it had chosen to settle early on. But that’s not how it’s built.

            Like

            • Cojones

              And this is not about maintaining status quo. It is a sincere appeal for us to interject any solution that could be enacted instead of chasing Aub’s idea of what “pocket money” is; to get ahead of the curve with ideas that could be discussed to fullest consequences before the jerks get an upper hand in the chaos created.

              Like

  6. Cojones

    Realy dislike it when the recruitin’ aholes get mixed in with good coaches for the guy’s services who then have crap rubbed all over their faces as well. It’s only one guy’s story for heaven’s sake. Using a guy for going thru a hurry-up with NCAA legislation can do that to the recruiting picture at this juncture.

    When would Smith be able to join his college team? Late summer?

    Like

  7. reipar

    Here is what I do not understand about this specific situation. It appears the kid is still considering UCLA despite his coach have left. That seems to indicate to me he is taking the actual school into account and not just the coach. Additionally, the head coach that is still there either outright lied or intentionally misled the kid. Yet knowing that he is still thinking about going there. It reminds me of these kids that commit to Bama and are then shocked when Saban pulls a Saban on them.

    Like

  8. Hank

    Didn’t Kwame Geathers never sign an NLI? I think I remember something like that.

    Like

  9. 69Dawg

    When is some adult going to figure out that Smith is not exactly a victim in this case. He is get the attention that he craves and when it starts to go away he will sign. At this point it’s pretty embarrassing for adults unrelated to the kid to GAS what he does.

    Like

    • I haven’t seen or heard anything out of Smith since signing day. If he craves attention, he’s sure got a funny way of showing it.

      Like

      • Cojones

        By being silent and letting the media do it for him? Don’t some people call that passion….uhhh…no…..oh yeah, passive aggressive?

        Yeah, that’s funny alright, Senator.

        Like

        • “Letting the media do it for him”? How exactly does that work? Think he should have picked up the phone and told Staples to shut the fuck up?

          It never ceases to amaze me how old farts assume teenagers should be able to think and act just like they do.

          Like

        • “He’s back to normal,” Harold said of Smith. “He went hunting and fishing over the weekend, went to a couple of basketball games, just had some fun. All I want is for him to be relaxed and calm, and we’re not going to talk about (recruiting). He’s been through a lot the last three or four days.”

          What a prima donna.

          Like

        • Cojones

          I agree that he has a funny way of showing it. He could just ask the media to sit on it instead of using it for more articles of embarrassing conjecture.

          Like

  10. dawghouse23

    I’m cloudy on all the rules so I’ll just ask. Do the transfer rules not apply wether he signs a letter of intent or not? He would still loose a year of eligibility if he transfers, right? The only differences would be the coaches couldn’t create any restrictions and he wouldn’t have to beg to be released from a financial aid agreement. And as Staples points out, he could still be recruited by other schools until he sets foot on campus. I’m not sure that is an advantage though.

    Like

  11. Scorpio Jones, III

    Some great ideas here, but in the four or five years it will take to adjudicate any suit for Smith, Smith will become an old man in the college athletics sense.

    It is well and good for us old guys to pontificate about solutions to an obvious problem, it is, in my opinion, quite another thing to live with the problem.

    Since some of us seem to believe Smith is gaming the system while he sits in class in Montezuma, maybe they should offer to put up the money to support Smith and his family while Smith goes through the horror show that would be his lot if he chose to be a test case.

    Like

    • Not sure I understand your point. If no school will sign Smith without a NLI, forcing him to sign one in order to play CFB, and he does, how would that affect his ability to sue?

      Like

      • Jack Klompus

        Who would he sue? All of the NCAA FBS schools?

        Like

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        “Is Roquan Smith ready to be a test case?” You asked?

        Like

        • He can be a plaintiff and still play college football. I don’t understand the point you’re trying to make in your earlier comment.

          He can be a test case simply by trying to forego signing a NLI. But that doesn’t mean he has to sit out playing CFB until his suit – if there is one – is adjudicated.

          Like

          • Scorpio Jones, III

            “He can be a plaintiff and still play college football.” While that is certainly true, the point I may not have made clearly is to ask the question: Do you really think he can, practically speaking, become a plaintiff in a lawsuit of this magnitude, then go somewhere and play football?

            Would his status as a plaintiff not make him somewhat difficult for any school to deal with?

            Since we are just spit-balling here anyway. 🙂

            Jeremy Pruitt….”Where the hell is Roquan?” Roquan’s legal team director of communications Marvin Godelfi “Ah coach, maybe you disremembered, he is in Indianapolis this week giving a deposition to ………

            Like

          • Lrgk9

            Like to see a lawsuit give a try at naming every single D1 University President as a defendant. Then List Mickey Moolah on the back nine. Let them file motions to interplead the Nefarious (Flagrantly Wicked and/or Impious) NCAA.

            Like

  12. Jack Klompus

    No comment on the candy heart story?

    Like

  13. Dog in Fla

    “Kessler is the attorney who hopes to leave a smoking crater in Indianapolis where the NCAA headquarters currently sits…”

    Steve Patterson knows that Kessler loves the smell of Candy Land in the morning

    Like

  14. Pingback: Roquan Smith, test case | Get The Picture