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SB Nation | We Found A Bag Man

"The Bag Man excuses himself to make a call outside, on his "other phone," to arrange delivery of $500 in cash to a visiting recruit. The player is rated No. 1 at his position nationally and on his way into town. We're sitting in a popular restaurant near campus almost a week before National Signing Day, talking about how to arrange cash payments for amateur athletes."

Taking the veil off the engine that drives college football. It's long, fantastic, and something every fan needs to read.


Steven Godfrey with SB Nation sits down with a bag man at a local eatery, and witnesses money exchange hands. Everyone knows impermissible benefits are being dolled out, but everyone likes to think not at their school. Godfrey shatters that notion by describing just how rampant cash handshakes are in college football, who is the bag man, and what it takes to be one.

Even when I asked for and received proof -- in this case a phone call I watched him make to a number I independently verified, then a meeting in which I witnessed cash handed to an active SEC football player -- it's just cash changing hands. When things are done correctly, there's no proof more substantial than one man's word over another. That allows for plausible deniability, which is good enough for the coaches, administrators, conference officials, and network executives. And the man I officially didn't speak with was emphatic that no one really understands how often and how well it almost always works.

These men are fans who believe they're leveraging football success $500 or $50,000 at a time. I can't show you that money, and neither can anyone else. You might think you see themoney -- a flash of $20 bills all over some kid's Instagram or Facebook update -- but that's just money.

This is the arrangement in high-stakes college football, though of course not every player is paid for. Providing cash and benefits to players is not a scandal or a scheme, merely a function. And when you start listening to the stories, you understand the function can never be stopped... Continue Reading

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