Recruiting seems to be the hot topic for my first batch of posts. But, as we all know, recruiting is at the essence of being an agent, or a successful one at least. Recruiting is what separates the men from the boys in this profession. If you can’t recruit, then this profession is definitely not for you. Well, enough with my little rant and off to what you guys have been so patiently awaiting— my next column.
Let’s say that you are a relatively young agent, but you have a few solid years of experience under your belt. You’re fairly seasoned when it comes to recruiting, negotiating, and securing endorsements. You have a decent client base with about 10 guys who range from middle-of-the-pack to practice squad players in the NFL. Like most agents, you have yet to sign a top-level prospect and you feel like this may be your year to finally break through.
Rather than concentrating your recruiting efforts on the sure-shots, as you have done in previous years, you decide that you are going to take a stab at landing one of college football’s most prized recruits. Many agents would be complacent with a mediocre client list like yours (because as we all know the majority of the approximately 800 certified agents do not represent a single player). Instead, you have an insatiable appetite for securing the next ringer and you live by the motto, “A Shark Never Sleeps.” You are well aware that adding one big client to your list is all you need to open the floodgates.
In your pursuit of catapulting yourself to the top amongst the elite agents, you concentrate your recruitment efforts on a 3-time All-American and Butkus Award winning linebacker. He has been projected near the top of Mel Kieper’s Big Board. From hereon, we will call him Player A.
While competition is stiff for this heralded senior, you remain unphased and have kept your eyes on the prize. You have sent Player A your agency’s brochure and have spoke to him a few times over the phone. The results have been very promising from the early-going. Your conversations have been full of enthusiasm and you have established a great connection with him. Over the course of your conversations, Player A insists that you guys meet face-to-face for the first time. Everything seems to be falling your way, except you only wish that your dating life could be going just as smoothly.
You set up a time to meet Player A. You then drive to Player A’s house and meet his parents, siblings, and of course, his huge entourage comprised of his peewee football buddies. The meeting goes great. You win over the endorsement of everybody in the room, including Player A’s Pop, who has been in charge of the whole recruitment process for his son. Pop tells you, “You’re the one for my boy,” and gives you a strong handshake to back it up.
However, you are not completely satisfied with an oral commitment. Like every intelligent agent with an ounce of sense, you pull out a contract and say to Player A, just sign right here buddy. You know that without a signature, you have no deal.
In response to your demand, Player A looks you in the eye and says, “How about you give me a night to discuss it with my family, but not to worry, you’re definitely my dude.” You don’t want to be too much of pest and you respect his wishes. After all, this is a huge decision for him and a very reasonable request. You gather up your things, shake hands with Player A, and climb through his entourage on your way out the door. In the end, with all of the assurances from Player A and his Pop, you have great vibes and you’re confident that tomorrow is your big day.
That night, Player A discusses the decision with his family, and as you guessed, he’s on board! The decision is an easy one for him. He calls you the next morning and tells you to come over later that evening after he attends his weekly spring meeting with the coaching staff.
You show up at Player A’s house for what you feel is a moment that rivals the signing of the Declaration of Independence in importance. You’re adrenaline is pumping and your heart feels like it is going to beat out of your chest as you walk up to his front door. You knock and Player A invites you to come in.
When you enter, the mood is drastically different than what you expected. It seems like everything has come to a crashing halt as you sit down on the coach next to Player A and his family. Player A turns to you and tells you that he has decided to go with Agent X instead of you. You are absolutely shocked and as your jaw drops open, you yell “WHY?”
He tells you that Coach “Great” (lets just say that this guy is perhaps the biggest coach in Division I-A football) pulled him aside at the meeting and smeared your reputation. Coach “Great” told him “that guy is too young and doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing.” (Excuse my French!). Player A tells you that Coach “Great” told him to sign with a more experienced agent like Agent X, who has also traditionally owned the pipeline of recruits coming out of this program every year.
Because Player A really admires the advice of his coach, he takes his advice at face value. Unfortunately, Player A is naïve and unaware that this is an inside deal. The fact of the matter is that Coach “Great” doesn’t have Player A’s best interests at heart. When it come downs to it, Coach “Great” threw you under the bus for his own personal gain. You have heard through the grapevine over the years that Coach “Great” gets paid off for steering his biggest players to Agent X each season.
Although Player A has told you that he is going to sign with Agent X, he hasn’t signed quite yet.
What would you do…?
– Matthew Allinson