Should College Football Coaches have agents?

Justin VanFulpen with client Davenport Head Coach Sparky McEwen

By Justin VanFulpen

There is a saying that “coaches are hired to be fired” or move on to another opportunity.  Everyone knows that college football at any level is a business and the primary role of any coaches’ agent is to help his or her client get a job or get a better job.  A successful agent may significantly enhance his or her clients’ bargaining power if he or she is truly knowledgeable about the level and type of compensation available to candidates in the market.

Most if not all of the top college coaches have agents, and some are represented by the same agent or agency.  Some people think that there is a conflict of interest with agents that might represent multiple coaches or both players and coaches.  But the job on an agent is to do what is in the best interest for his or her client.  As an agent, you’re only trying to facilitate something for your client, and that’s your job.

In the football coaching business you can’t insure success in terms of wins on the field, if things go wrong there can be factors that are beyond a coach’s control.  But what a coach can control is have or not having someone working for them behind the scenes.

As a college coach with a job there is much more than just coaching the X’s and O’s so to have someone advising you on the land scape of the football business, if it is about a new job opportunity, a contract, an off the field opportunity and much more, it can be invaluable.

Some coaches might reason, only head coaches need an agent or why do I need an agent, I can put these deals together on my own.  The really question should be why wouldn’t you have someone representing you.  It is another pair of eyes looking at a deal, someone to bounce an idea or thought off of that has experience in the football business.  True a coach could just use an attorney to look at a contract but they normally don’t have a lot of experience with everything else that goes on in the football business world.

Just like in any business there are better agents then others but the fact is being in the college football industry having an agent to represent you to athletic directors or other coaches behind the scenes so it doesn’t take your focus away from the task at hand can be invaluable.

What College Football All-Star Game Directors look for when inviting NFL Draft prospects to All-Star Games

Justin VanFulpen at the Texas vs. the Nation All-Star game in Allen, Texas

By Justin VanFulpen

First and for most College Football All-Star games are a business, they need sponsors to help take care of the expenses to bring in the NFL Draft prospects.  These sponsors want their brands to be associated with the NFL without having to pay the top dollars to be an official sponsor of the NFL or a competitor of their already has that category locked up with the NFL.  So to get true NFL prospects is a must to be able to help keep sponsors coming back year after year.  That is a major selling point to sponsors is how many draft pick you had or how many players you have in the NFL that played in your game.

When the spring grades come out from BLETSO and National not only are the agents and financial advisors try to get their hands on them but so are the people that run the all-star games.  All-star game directors of player personal want to see if the players NFL spring grade matches up to what they think of the NFL prospect.

When I was in that position in charge of personal we built our boards like we were an NFL team.  We wanted to make sure we could get the best prospect in our game as possible.  Any game not named the Senior Bowl knows it has to more work on elevation because since the Senior Bowl is far and away the number one College Football All-Star game.  If a player is going to play in an all-star game and get an invite from the Senior Bowl he is accepting that invite.

Here are things that Player Personal Directors look for when inviting prospect to College Football All-Star Games:

1. Is he a true NFL prospect: Does he have the ability to play on Sundays and is not just a good college football player?  What are scouts saying about him, will they want to see more of him in a college football all-star game setting?  What grade do you have on the prospect ? As a director can you defend the selection to NFL scouts if they ask.

2. Does he have NFL measurables: If there is a tie between two or more prospect for a game roster spot, directors will go for the bigger, longer player.

3. Where the player from: Since the game is a business it doesn’t hurt to have a few local or regional prospects to help with media coverage and ticket sales.

4. What agents are recruiting the prospect: What kind of relationship does the agent have with the games personal director? Is the agent truly trying to help the prospect or just help him if he signing the prospect? Is the agent using one all-star game invite to help the prospect get a “better” invite?

5. Is the college coach calling for the prospect: Will his college head coach or position coach pick up the phone or send you an email recommending him to the game? We would always have his happen and it did factor into our decision making process.

At the end of the day the College Football All-Star game process is a big part in which a prospect can raise his draft stock so as a director of player personal you want to make sure you get the best possible prospects into your game.

NFL Draft: College Scouts vs. Pro Scouts

By Justin VanFulpen

As we push towards the start of the all-star game season (Senior Bowl, East – West Shrine Game, etc) as an NFL Draft prospects you will start to get interview by what are called “College Scouts” from NFL teams.  These guys’ jobs are to gather information both football and personal related, evaluate your play and write up scouting reports that can be reviewed by their team’s coaches and front office.

“Pro Scouts” on the other hand evaluate current players in the NFL, as well as players in the CFL, AFL and other leagues.  Before pre-season rosters get cut down to a team’s 53 man roster these scouts are evaluating each player on the other 31 roster so if that player get released they have a “pro scouting report” on that player.

Each NFL teams has much more College Scouts then Pro Scouts on their staff.  In the past when a player get released I have heard them saying well this scouts from a certain team really like me before the draft.  After the draft is over college scouts have little to no impact on what an NFL teams does in training camp or in the season, because once the draft is over their cycle looking at next year’s draft prospects starts.

As a prospect you need to know that when/if you gets released that your agent (you if you are representing yourself) need to contact the teams Pro Scout to get a work out or get signed.

Task of an NFL Agent pre-Draft

nfl-agent-role1By Justin VanFulpen

All-Games: Even before an agent signing a prospect he/she is most likely contacting the director of the all-star games but especially after a client has signed with an agent are they contacting the directors to see if they can get their client in a game. With the All-Star games being the last time football is practice or played it is the last time the NFL scouts will have a chance to evaluate the prospect in person, and as we always see players rise and sliding because of all-star game practice and game performances.

Film: Agents should be contacting scouts and coaches to sell and promote their clients best game film against their best level of competition that they played. With the game films agents can sell to scouts and coaches how their prospect fits into the team’s schemes and how they would be an upgrade to their roster.

NFL Scouts:  Scouts make their own judgement and are paid to give their opinion on a prospects ability to play in the NFL.  Agents are contacting scouts to give them information about their prospect and sell their prospects ability to play football.

Promotion of Prospect: An agent is looking to use the media as a form of getting their prospects story out there also to make sure other teams know that there is more than just one team interested in the prospect. Also an agent is looking to see what deals that they can make in with different companies to make their prospect additional money off the field.  Some agent or agency might outsource these two jobs.  Also each prospects ability to make money off the field will be different based on how high they are projected to be drafted as well as what position that they play.

Knowledge of the NFL Landscape:  Each prospect is in competition with every player in their position as well as the current players at their position in the NFL, so an agent needs to have a working knowledge base to properly advise their client. They need to know what they of offense and defense scheme a team runs.  It would be embarrassing if an agent was promoting a 3-4 defense end (5 tech) to a team that runs a 4-3 defense. Also if a prospect is not drafted where he is advising his client to sign is a big deal as if this prospect is just a “camp body” or has an actually shot at making the 53-man roster. What is the agent using to make a determination, what they are offer as a signing bonus or what the team currently has on their roster at their client position and the scheme the team runs? So knowledge of the NFL is an important thing.

These are just some of the tasks that an agent performs per draft there are many additional ones after the draft is over.

Breakdown of what NFL Draft Grades are made up of

NFLDraftGrade

Film – Your level of competition and how you played against the best level of competition you faced that year.  Each teams will view around 3 full games of your current season. This also includes if you played in an all-star game.

Athletic Numbers – Height, Weight, Speed

Injury History/Off Field/Football IQ –  Any major injuries, anything major off the field, love of the game, film study

Basic NFL Business 101

By Justin VanFulpen

This might not be any new information but here is some of the basic’s when it comes to the NFL business.

Roster size:  90 man roster in the off-season and start of training camp.  Rosters will get cut down to 53 man roster and of that only 46 players dress for each week.  If a player doesn’t dress he will still get paid the same if he did dress for the game.

Benefits of being on 53 man roster:  After you play 2 regular season games you will be automatic enrolled in the 401K in which the NFL has a match.  There is an NFL pension, tuition reimbursement, and other benefits.  Also each player on the 53 man roster does receive 2 game tickets per home game.

2017 Rookie Base Salary:  $465,000 per year or $27,352 per week.

Performance Based Pool:  If a player plays one down in a regular season game he is eligible. This is a lump sum of money paid out after the season based on each player playtime percentage.

Playoffs:  Will get additional weekly checks if team is in the playoffs.

Practice Squad: The maximum players allowed on a NFL teams practice squad is 10.  A practice squad player can sign with any teams 53 man roster at any time and if signs with another team then its own the player is guaranteed 2 regular season game checks.

2017 Practice Squad Pay: $7,200 a week or $122,400 a year.  

Training Camp/Pre-Season Games: Weekly pay in 2017 is $1,075 for rookies.

Taxes: Will need to pay state income taxes in each state that a player plays in, so at the end of the season possible 9 state tax returns will need to be filled.  Each state has a different state income tax rate and some states like Texas or Florida have no state income tax.

Tuesday During the NFL Season:  Most teams Tuesday is the players off day, but also it is the day teams will bring in “street free-agents” to work out because of injuries the past week or to get a look at for the teams emergency list for future injuries.

Future Contracts:  When people talk about future contract it an NFL team signing a player after the season so that the player can participate in OTA’s, Mini-Camps and then go to training camp with the team.

Agents:  Agents can charge a maximum of 3%, on base salary as well as signing bonus, work out bonus, and roster bonus.  But only get paid after the player gets paid.  Also does not get a commission on practice squad weekly pay.

Undrafted: Doesn’t mean a player won’t make it in the NFL

When the NFL Draft comes around every April every college football player that is eligible is hoping that they will get drafted somewhere in the 7 round draft.  With over 1,500 eligible players and only 256 draft slots that can’t happen.  After the NFL Draft teams will sign undrafted rookie free-agents and it gives them an opportunity to make the teams 53 man roster, some other teams 53 man roster or a practice squad. With the NFL season about to kickoff let look at the impact that undrafted rookie free-agents have on NFL rosters.

As of September 7, 2016 there is 478 players on a 53 man roster that where not drafted.  So 28% of the 32 NFL teams 53 man rosters are made of undrafted free-agents.  61 of these players are rookies.

There are 240 undrafted players that are on practice squads. Teams are allowed a max of 10 players on a practice squad, so 75% of the NFL’s practice squads are made up of undrafted players.

NFL teams spend millions of dollars on scouting players for the draft but they are unable to be prefect in their selection of players. When the draft comes everyone has an opinion on what players will get drafted and who will make the 53 man roster but the NFL business is unpredictable and that is one reason why people love it.

A full breakdown of all 32 NFL teams and undrafted players:

UndraftedPlayers9-7-16