July 24, 2020
Greetings! 

This email is directed at anyone in the pro and college football business. Already a client? Here's a review of the week. Not a client? We'd love to have you aboard.
The Week in Football: July 18-24
In case you missed it, the first player from the 2021 draft class  has entered the draft pool now that his team's season has been cancelled. At this point, it's a drop in the bucket. But what happens if several FBS conferences begin to cancel play and the entire season is postponed until the spring or even abandoned altogether? What happens if the dam breaks and, suddenly,  Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Gregory Rousseu and many others suddenly go from college players to full-time prospects?
 
It's a conversation that's happening across the agent industry, so this week, we started reaching out to contract advisors with a simple question: If the FBS season is cancelled, what's your plan? We asked agents from 14 firms with at least one player drafted in the top 100 in either 2019 or 2020. Responses broke, mostly evenly, into five categories.
 
Case by case: Several people we spoke to were realistic; they acknowledged that the biggest prospects will set the market and that agencies will follow, though these terms wouldn't go for everyone. "High-profile guys, we'd sign and stipend right away if that's what they wanted," said one respondent. Others would have to settle for what's left over. "We will 100% start signing kids as quickly as possible and figuring out the best plan specifically for them," summed up another agent. 
 
Training is a go; stipends TBA: "We would begin training when players want," said one big-firm agent. "No decision on stipends and such." This was echoed by several agents who don't want to see their potential clients get out of shape, but who don't know their budgets yet given the longer training cycle.
 
Spread out the stipend: Others will try to spend the same amount on stipends that they would have spread over the normal January-to-April cycle, but stretch it out over the fall, winter and spring. "Had a conversation with a father about this just today about what happens with stipends, and I'm not going to lose a kid because of the stipend," said one agent. "If the relationship is there, I'm going to either spread it out over eight months or over four months."
 
Waiting and hoping: This represents the firms that are wary of what could happen, but still not worried that games won't be played. "Can't see hard-core training for the whole fall," said one adviser. "Still think most colleges will play this fall." Another: "We are in a wait-and-see mode right now."
 
Damn the torpedoes: Others are comfortable raising the ante and going to war. "We would likely do full stipends, starting the day they sign, because they will need it," said one agent. Said another: "We've bought houses in (the area) . . . and will have them here ASAP. Start stipends right away with the kids we feel great about and get them ready."
 
Of course, there are so many variables that it's almost hard to have this conversation. While several combine prep facilities are putting together fall plans, no one knows what a seven-month training cycle would look like, what it would cost, and how it would change due to coronavirus implications. "We're going to go to the usual training places and spend a lot of time determining if they're safe and have the right protocols," said the head of one major agency.
 
Regardless of who we spoke to, there were grave concerns about the financial implications of a fall without football. "We need to be smart and not compete with other agents for the sake of competing," said one longtime player rep. "The expenses would easily get out of hand." Said another: "Lots will be fired by draft time. . . or funding an undrafted player for seven months."
 
The stakes are very high. We're praying that games go ahead mostly unabated, but if they don't, we'll be here to help people in the industry pick up the pieces and try to conduct business as closely to normal as is possible. In the meantime, the conversation continues, and here's a look at what else we saw, heard, read and said in the business of college and pro football this week.
 
Practice agent exam - updated: At long last, we've finished the tweaks on our first practice exam and  it's ready to roll. Almost half the questions have substantial changes and another dozen minor changes. It took longer than we expected, but  it's done. Cost is $175 for non-ITL clients, $125 for clients. Now it's on to Exam 2, which we hope to have done by next week. Of course, don't forget about  our study guide, as well, which is probably step 1 in our recommended study process. We're hearing October for the exam. Don't let it sneak up on you. Click  here to check out all our prep materials.
 
How the SWAC stacks up: We don't have to wonder if football will be played this fall in the FCS Southwestern Athletic Conference:  it won't be. That means some of the better players from the conference that gave us  Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and  Steve McNair may decide not to stick around for the spring. Before you decide to sign a player who's weighing skipping the spring, make sure you check out this week's reports. Similar to this week's reports  TuesdayWednesday and  Thursday that spotlighted the MEAC's best prospects, we'll be doing the same this week for another HBCU conference. Just as we did this week, we'll be looking at the conference's best prospects, regardless of class. Don't expect a lot of Day 1 and 2 prospects, but there are plenty of Day 3 and UDFA prospects who could make a 53-man roster. Check out this week's reports, starting Tuesday.
 
ITL College Week: "Absolutely Great Scouting Seminar!!" "The last 3 nights were awesome." "Enjoyed it all and learned a lot!" "Thanks for that opportunity." This is just a sampling of the unsolicited responses we got after our first-ever College Week, which featured former Bucs GM  Mark Dominik, former Titans scouting director  Blake Beddingfield and former Rams GM  Billy  Devaney in Zoom sessions. The feedback was just as good from our survey, which asked the nearly 50 participants how they felt about the content this week. Ninety percent gave the week an 'A.' Two-thirds said the week was a "fair price for what was delivered," and another third (28.5%) said it was "probably worth more than I paid." More than 60 percent said they "would have been willing to go five nights" instead of just three, and more than half said they "would have been comfortable going longer" than the 90-minute running times. Finally, almost half (43%) said it was "hard to pick one" when asked which speaker was best. We'll take that. We're pleased that we helped dozens of young professionals get better, and we're just getting started. If you joined us this week, we're much obliged. If not, please consider joining us next time! And by the way, if you'd like a taste of what was said this week, check out  our blog post in Succeed in Football, where we broke off a nugget from each of this week's sessions. 
 
ITL Agent Week II: The learning doesn't stop at ITL. Now that college week is over, it's on to our second big week for contract advisors (and those who will take the exam this summer. Participants in our first agent week told us they loved the format, the content and the price, but wanted new speakers and new topics. Their wish is our command, starting Monday at 7 p.m. We'll have four more experts from the field ready to serve up hot stuff for some of the best young agents in the business. Kicking things off Monday is Joel Segal of Lagardere Sports,  one of the top five agents in the business by total active clients. He'll discuss his climb to a place near the summit of the agent world and how he got there. Tuesday, we'll welcome former NFL and XFL executive  Trip Maccracken, who has served as the cap guy for two pro teams (the Browns and Chiefs). He'll talk about how to build bridges with a team's DFA and how it can benefit an agent. Wednesday, we'll bring back Dominik, who'll recast his presentation for a different audience. Finally, on Thursday, we'll have NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Director of College Scouting  Dane Van der Nat. However, he'll discuss not his time running an all-star game (mostly), but his decade in the Raiders' pro department. He'll talk about the finer points of pitching an unsigned players, what teams look for in camp as well as in-season, how and when to reach out and other related topics (and maybe a bit about the NFLPA Bowl, as well). What's even better is that if you sign up for all four nights,  you save 10 percent off the price ($90+tax). Plus, we're flexible, as we're offering a chance to  sign up for three nights of your choice if you're a little limited on time ($75+tax). Whether you're an agent, young or old, or you're just interested in the business of football, we hope you can join us. 
 
Speaking of client lists: This week, we published  our monthly look at contract advisors with their client totals, minimum 10. Highlights: the top five agents were unchanged from last month. This year's July totals  were down six from last year's July totals, but up six from  last month's totals. Like last month, 13 agents had at least 30 active clients, while 44 agents had at least 20 clients in June compared to 47 this month. Bottom line, it's mostly steady as she goes - so far -- for an industry that has seen plenty of upheaval and could see even more this fall.
 
Next week: Though we still don't know what will happen this fall, the next seven days are straightforward as it applies to Inside the League. Leading the way is  our second Agent Week  ( click here if you prefer three nights to four), which will run from 8-930 pm ET Monday through Thursday. We'll have different speakers and different topics from our previous week, which ran July 6-9. It's one last chance to focus on getting better before NFL camps begin next week and (hopefully) college camps the following week. We'll also have three reports on the top prospects from the SWAC, courtesy of the  ITL Scouting Department, as well as five more of our 2021+  ITL Team Scouting Reports (next week,  Purdue, Rice, Rutgers, San Diego State and  San Jose State). Also, with  our first practice exam now updated, we'll hope to get the updated Exam 2 online, as well ( all our materials are here). We'll also have limited resumption of the  ITL Rising Contract Advisors Newsletter. Then there are also our usual features: our  Rep Rumblings and  our weekly blog, Succeed in Football, plus we're bearing down on the completion of our second book. We've got a few days left in the month, and we're going to make them count.  Join us and we'll help you make every day count, as well.

Inside The League is the consulting service for the football industry. We work with the contract advisors for about two-thirds of active NFL players as well as the combine trainers, financial planners, scouts, coaches and other pro league organizers that make up the game. Cost is $29.95/month, and you can cancel at any time. To register, click here. Also check out our new free blog, Succeed in Football. Copyright Neil Stratton and ITL 2015.

Sincerely, Neil Stratton
President
Inside the League

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