Late last week former NFL agent turned consultant Ralph Cindrich appearing on a Pittsburgh radio station had some pointed comments about the NCAA in the wake of the sanctions levied against Penn State Universities football program. Cindrich went even further, accusing NCAA President Mark Emmert and defending BCS national champion University of Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban of “cheating.”
The controversial interview took place Thursday on Pittsburgh radio station KDKA, on a show hosted by Larry Richert and John Shumway.
The conversation turned toward Saban when Cindrich, a former NFL player and sports agent was asked by the hosts about who was watching the NCAA?
“That’s a very good question,” he said. “No one’s watching them. You want to know who’s watching them? Nick Saban. You want to trust Nick Saban? I have enough on Saban right now – and I realize this stuff gets out, and I also realize the truth is a defense. I know what goes on in college football, so cut me a break. …”
“Everybody has something on Nick Saban, for God’s sake,” Cindrich said. “And if he has a problem with anything I say, come on after me, big guy.”
Cindrich also had stern words about Emmert, calling him “a bozo” and a “hypocrite” at points during the interview.
“When he starts talking about values and all the rest with student-athletes and college education and football, he’s a hypocrite, and he knows he’s a hypocrite,” Cindrich said. “Coming down the way they have on Penn State, and even the statements that they’re making, it’s not at all about the institution. … We should be looking at them. There’s something that smells about this whole thing. It came down too quickly, in my opinion.”
“It is not pure, lily white,” continued Cindrich . “It is not close to that. It is a professional sport, a billion-dollar industry. Everybody knows the underside of it. If they’re out there, if they’re around players, around campuses, they know what goes on. It’s bad.”
When asked to explain further about what he was alleged to “have” on Saban, Cindrich had this to say.
“I didn’t say Nick Saban was behind this, or if I did, I apologize,” Cindrich said. “I said, ‘Like Nick Saban,’ or, ‘Like the other college coaches.’ Let me say this: If you go to a seedy group out there – let’s call them the agents out there of professional football players – and you start bringing them in and give them immunity … you would hear things that make your hair turn gray. …
“Like violations. Like payola. I mean, I testify in these things, guys. There’s so much money – are you guys really serious? Are you that naive to think that there really isn’t thousands of dollars in payola given to players to play each Saturday?”
The show’s host asked Cindrich if he was saying Alabama players were paid.
“Oh, come on,” said CIndrich. “”When you get these guys down and you get them under oath, they’ll tell you that. Sure.”
When asked why the NCAA has not done anything to stop this if it was true, and the proof was out there, Cindrich followed with this comment.
“Nick Saban doesn’t want to lose his $5 million, $7 million (salary) – $5 million is what we know about.”
Saban, who was the head football coach at LSU from from 2000-2004 worked under then LSU, and current NCAA president Emmert.
Cindrich’s comments, while never directly saying Saban and Emmert conspired to protect the coach and his program, the implication was clear.
Titans undrafted, free agent rookie center William Vlachos played for Saban at Alabama from 2007 until graduation following last season’s national championship.
Vlachos who was redshirted his freshman season in 2007 was part of the first recruiting class Saban had upon taking over as the head coach at Alabama following two seasons with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.
Vlachos started forty games at center for Saban and the Tide during his college career, and was a starter on both their 2009 and 2011 national championship teams. He ready to defend his former coach and university when asked about Cindrich’s comments following Saturday’s first practice of Titans training camp.
“I didn’t see all the details to know what was said but I can tell you this, I spent five years there and Coach Saban runs an absolutely first class operation. There are no shortcuts and there is nothing fishy going on,” said Vlachos. “I started forty games and I was drug tested, and I never got anything from anybody. “
“Everything is run by the book,” continued Vlachos. “He’s (Saban) is an extremely smart guy and he knows there is too much to lose by breaking the rules.
Vlachos continued to defend his coach.
“He always says that, he doesn’t make the rules, and I think there are probably some rules he doesn’t agree with,” said Vlachos. “But at the same time there are consequences to breaking them and I know he realizes that.”
“Anything is believable in this day and age, the people you thought could never slip up but he’s (Saban) so on top of things and he’s so smart, I can promise you he’s not doing anything he shouldn’t be doing,” continued Vlachos. “He runs that thing the right way because it’s all about integrity with him and the best player plays and if you want to go there you go there and that’s that.”
Vlachos, who is a very articulate and personable young man didn’t stop there in speaking about Saban.
“He doesn’t do anything fishy down there, I can promise you!”
To this point, Cindrich has only made his accusations during that radio show and in various Twitter messages following the interview; he has yet to provide publically any proof of wrongdoing by Saban at either Alabama or during his time at LSU.
Saban, the University of Alabama along with Emmert and the NCAA has made no public comments acknowledging Cindrich’s allegations, and none is expected unless there is some offer of proof of the allegations presented.
Until Cindrich provides more than just his word, all his rants and comments are just bluster and perhaps self-serving vitriol.