“Obviously, they are not signing them for free.”
Those are Steve Spurrier’s words, not mine, spoken Wednesday during the SEC teleconference.
Spurrier was asked about Georgia running back Todd Gurley being suspended four games by the NCAA after the NCAA discovered he accepted more than $3,000 worth of compensation for signing memorabilia. And the “they” obviously was not referring only to Gurley.
We’ve been through this with lots of elite college football players of late. Last year, South Carolina investigated whether Jadeveon Clowney had been paid for his signature after hundreds of items were discovered on EBay along with a photograph of Clowney with a man purported to be a memorabilia dealer. Gamecocks officials said at the time they found no evidence of wrongdoing by Clowney, and Spurrier said at the time he was confident Clowney had done nothing wrong.
On Wednesday, Spurrier said, “It appears some guys sign autographs and say, ‘Hey, give me the money when my days are over.’ Because obviously they are not signing them for free. I guess Todd Gurley took some money now when he should have waited until his eligibility was over and he would have been fine I guess.”
Georgia is appealing the NCAA’s decision. The Bulldogs don’t appear to be arguing the facts, which look pretty cut and dry, but instead are betting that turning public sentiment on the issue and their cooperation in the investigation will help them catch a break.
It’s only a matter of time before what Gurley did will not be a violation of NCAA rules. This train is moving too fast to be stopped now, but Spurrier is not as willing to open the autograph floodgates as many seem to be.
“I feel the right guard maybe ought to get the same amount as the quarterback,” he said. “He’s busting his tail, nobody knows who he is, he’s not signing autographs. It’s a team sport. I feel that might alienate some team chemistry if one guys gets a whole bunch of money and the right guard, he’s saying, ‘Where’s my cut of that pal? I’m blocking for you.’ I think it ought to be sort of even. I think most of the guys who are in position to sign the autographs are smart enough to say, ‘Catch me after the bowl game and we can do some business then.’ I think that’s the way we have to do it right now.”
Around the SEC:
Tennessee is still acting like there’s a chance starting quarterback Justin Worley will play against South Carolina, but there’s probably not.
Kevin Sumlin is now getting the “He’s winning with the last coach’s players” treatment. In this case, the argument is specifically about the quarterbacks Sumlin has inherited.
Florida thinks Georgia remains dangerous without Gurley.