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|As Luchs would have it|
There was an interesting story recently in Sports Illustrated about agent Josh Luchs.
It will be interesting to see what, if any, repurcussions come down as a result of this article told to SI's George Dohrmann.
Sure, Luchs may have sugared up some of it like a Hollywood movie based on something like Rudy or Friday Night Lights. But where there's smoke, there's probably an agent. Luchs seems like the guy of guy who can stretch the truth. But the stories are compelling. And there is probably quite a bit of truth in it. Some players seem to be running away from it like Mark McGuire at a Senate hearing.
Luchs tells a story about Oakland Raider Greg Townsend, who asked Luchs to use his urine for a test that he ultimately failed because he had to do it in front of a tester.
Luchs said in his first year in the business (1990), he paid Tennessee running back Chuck Webb and Volunteer defensive end Chris Mims.
His other clients accepting cash were mostly from UCLA, but there was Michigan State's Tony Banks, the first quarterback taken in the 1996 draft, Colorado's Greg Thomas, USC's Delon Washington and Phalen Pounds, and Portland State's Darick Holmes.
All the UCLA connections has to really anger the Southern Cal folks after the Reggie Bush incident.
Between 1990 and '96, Luchs said he paid more than 30 players, inclding Joel Steed of Colorado; Rob Waldrop, the Outland Trophy winner from Arizona; and Travis Claridge of USC .
Then again, Luchs said he put $10,000 cash in front of Kansas's Dana Stubblefield, and he wouldn't take it, and tried to pay UCLA's J.J. Stokes and USC's Keyshawn Johnson, and they said, "No."
Luchs said Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf made it clear that he had significant credit card debt, something like $5,000, and needed help.
Luchs said he needed around $500 a month, which wasn't much to pay for a player with Ryan's potential earnings. Luchs began paying him monthly with money orders, ranging from $300 to $700.
But a few weeks later, Luchs went on a trip with Leaf to Las Vegas, but at the last minute two other Washington State quarterbacks, Steve Birnbaum and Dave Muir, joined the trip.They spent two nights in Vegas, and when we checked out, Luchs paid for the room he and Leaf stayed in, but didn't pay for Birnbaum and Muir's room, and that caused a big stir. Luchs still gave Leaf money, but their relationship cooled. Then the day after the Rose Bowl, Jan. 2, Luchs watched on television as Ryan announced that he was going pro. Agent Leigh Steinberg was standing next to him.
Luchs joined Gary Wichard of Pro Tect Management.
One interesting story out of all of that is that Luchs said Wichard was a good friend of ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper.
Luchs said in 2000, before a meeting with Stanford defensive lineman Willie Howard, Gary arranged for Kiper to call.
"Gary and I were talking to Willie in Gary's office when Gary's phone rang, and he put it on speakerphone. 'Viper, how are you?' Gary said. That's what he called Mel, Viper or Vipe. 'Viper, I'm sitting here with the best defensive lineman in college football. Do you know who that is? You must be with Willie Howard, Mel said. Gary used Mel like that all the time. In the agent business, people know Gary and Mel are close, and some people suspect that Mel ranks players more favorably if they are Gary's clients."
If that story is true, Kiper needs to come clean, as well.
Luchs and Wichard eventually had a falling out and then there were counter lawsuits over a check from a client.
The union looked into the matter and the NFLPA suspended Luchs for a year and fined him $25,000.
"On Jan. 28, 2008, the day the NFLPA declined the appeal of my suspension, I walked into a commercial real estate office near my home in Encino and signed up for a training program," Luchs told Sports Illustrated. "That was it. I would keep the two loyal clients who didn't leave me after the suspension, but I wouldn't recruit anymore. For all intents and purposes, I was done as an agent."
Luchs said he is telling the story now because people should know how the agent business really works, how widespread the inducements to players are and how players have their hands out. It isn't just the big, bad agents making them take money. People think the NFLPA is monitoring agents, but it is mostly powerless. But he said his main reason was because his nine-year-old daughter got an iTouch, and has figured out how to get on the Internet.
"My six-year-old is not far behind," Luchs said. "At some point, they are going to Google their daddy's name, and before this story they would have found only page after page of stuff saying how I was suspended. I was a good agent and I took care of my players. I don't want my career to be defined by that suspension."
So what comes out from all of this. My guess is that it will go away and Luchs will look like a man at the end of his career looking for a final stage call.
But it's still a black eye for college football.
And now, the NCAA cannot say they were not aware it was a rampant problem. Josh Luchs has called the NCAA's hand.
And, bluffing or not, the NCAA needs to find an answer to the agents still out there before another college program suffers the consequences.
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