My how times have changed on the USC campus.
Although the Reggie Bush scandal might be in the Trojans' rearview mirror as NCAA sanctions cease this year, the proactive compliance approach the school has taken does not appear to be wearing off. According to well-known agent Leigh Steinberg, the football program tried out a new approach when it came to players meeting with NFLPA-certified agents when it hosted an "Agent Day" on campus this week.
The event apparently had a speed-dating feel to it.
"The players were given name cards and agents were directed to their first interview. Each session could only take 10 minutes. Agents were given strict guidelines as to what they could distribute to players. Agents committed to talk to every single prospect, whatever their projected draft status was. And a speed dating process began," Steinberg wrote on his blog. "The process had a 'musical chairs' quality to it with agents sitting out some of the 10 minute periods. I never got the opportunity to talk to two of the players that I most wanted to see, and the two top-rated prospects for next year decided to skip the whole session."
Presumably, the two top-rated prospects Steinberg is referring to are junior defensive tackle Leonard Williams and junior wide receiver Nelson Agholor. However, given the large number of potential NFL draft picks on the Trojans' roster, we're sure it wasn't a wasted trip to downtown Los Angeles for many of those that attended.
NCAA bylaws prohibit players from entering into representation agreements with agents and there are laws in many states governing contact between student-athletes and agents. Clearly, USC is attempting to help its players navigate this often-gray area without running afoul of any rules that could get them in trouble.
Steinberg said that in addition to the seniors that typically go through this process, juniors and redshirt sophomores also attended. The agent wrote that head coach Steve Sarkisian made it clear that some former USC players had received bad advice about coming out early for the draft and ended up going undrafted. It seems as though the school is trying to clear that issue up while keeping things as controlled as possible for both players and agents.
A few schools around the country are probably calling up the USC Compliance Office to get further details about the program. Perhaps more ideas like this one will help players avoid situations like the one a few Texas athletes found themselves in last month.
Speed dating might often be something where people go looking for love in all the wrong places, but maybe the approach will work out just fine when it comes to selecting an agent with an eye on the NFL draft.