Sports Illustrated is running a feature centering around an agent's confessions in this week's issue. The feature centers around Josh Luchs, a young agent who was looking to break into the business in the early 1990's. The piece focuses on his tactics, including paying many prominent West Coast guys.
Unfotunately for us, he had a large Washington State connection as a regular figure involved with the 1997 team. Among his confessions, he admits to paying players and being the go-to-guy for some of the stars of that team.
Eventually, I was paying several players on the team, including three starting defensive backs from the early 1990s -- Torey Hunter, Singor Mobley and John Rushing -- and also defensive lineman Leon Bender. Word spread in the locker room that if you needed money, you called me.
So he admits to paying some of the defensive stars on that team, but he wasn't done there. The big fish in all of this was the star quarterback at WSU: Ryan Leaf.
With Leaf buried in credit card debt, Luchs alleges the quarterback came to him and asked for money. What resulted was a monthly stipend, according to Luchs, that totaled around $500 a month. During it all, Luchs' father was dying of cancer.
One day, he came with me to my dad's house, and while he was there my dad got very upset, talking about how he hated that his illness prevented me from doing my job. Ryan told him, "Don't worry. Josh doesn't need to recruit any other players. He's got me."
Luchs brings up a trip to Vegas with Leaf after his father passed. Two other WSU quarterbacks -- Steve Birnbaum and Dave Muir -- also joined the trip, which marked the beginning of the end in the relationship between Leaf and Luchs. The star quarterback never signed with Luchs and their relationship soured, with Luchs feeling a sense of betrayal.
In th end, Leaf repaid Luchs most of the money he took after he signed his first contract. He didn't apologize for breaking his promise, but he repaid around $10,000 to the agent.
These things happen everywhere and Washington State is not immune the problems with agents. It's happened in the past and you're seeing it go on in the present at schools in the Southeast now. There just doesn't seem to be a way to stop agents from aggressively pursuing star players.
There's nothing that come from this in terms of sanctions or trouble from the school. The statue of limitations has long been expired. However, the perception of the teams involved surely takes a hit from all this.
The story puts a black mark on the great Cougar team from 1997. It's disappointing to see names of players I grew up idolizing tied to shady dealings. It may have happened over a decade ago, but it's incredibly sad.