By Southern Pigskin Staff
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Jimmy Sexton is a power player of all power players because he represents the coaches, including Nick Saban.
No doubt college football is big business. I don't think anyone can argue with that.
Along with big business it's natural your going to see big money and big time influential people walking side by side. There is always a decision maker. Power players are always in decision makers ears.
We've taken a look at the power players in southern college football. The list isn't long, likely missing one or two. However, don't be fooled, the folks listed make things happen. And some of the time, with just a phone call.
Ten years ago, the SEC’s status as the dominant conference in college football was up for debate. For most of the 1990’s and into the early 2000’s, the marquee SEC game nationally each year was between Tennessee and Florida in mid-September. The rest of the season mostly came down to seeing if the winner could remain in the national title chase until December.
Back then, the SEC West was little more than an afterthought. It was also then that Nick Saban began his brand development in the south.
If one man changed the landscape of southern football, it would be Nick Saban.
Saban built LSU into a national power after a mediocre decade under Curley Hallman and Gerry DiNardo, winning the national title in 2003 and leaving Les Miles with a juggernaut.
He returned to Alabama and revitalized a downtrodden Crimson Tide program, winning the 2009 national championship and bringing in Top 5 recruiting classes on an annual basis. His effect was not limited to just Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge, but was felt at Tennessee, Arkansas, and Auburn. All three programs had successful coaches (two of whom who had perfect seasons), but the administrations saw the power shift taking place in the conference, and Philip Fulmer, Houston Nutt, and Tommy Tuberville were relieved of their duties (Nutt technically resigned). Saban raised the stakes in the SEC, and caused a domino effect amongst the rest of the league which has continued today, where even the smallest slip is not tolerated.
Because of this, Mark Richt and Houston Nutt (again) may soon be shown the door, but ten years later, there is no debate as to which conference is college football’s best thanks to Nick Saban.
Another thought, and one that might not be that far off. Consider Steve Spurrier.
Spurrier still has the swagger, people listen and recruits still desire to possiblity play for. This was proven the past two years with South Carolina and Spurrier landing the nation’s top recruit in back to back years. He commands respect as a Heisman Trophy awarding winning player and as a coach that has seen college football glory.
Steve Spurrier still can get national headlines with a drop of a one-liner and everybody will answer his phone calls.
The obvious answer to this question would have to be Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive. Slive resides over the most dominant and financially successful football conference, not only in the south, but in the entire country.
When Slive enters the room, he possesses the greatest trump card over the entire football population. While his compensation may not be on par with the likes of Nick Saban or even lesser head coaches in the Southeastern Conference, he is the overseer of the umbrella that they currently reside. Nick Saban, Les Myles, Steve Spurrier and the rest of the coaches rule a state, but Slive rules an entire conference.
Another power broker to not leave out of the discussion is Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany. Many are convinced he is one of the, if not the biggest "power player" in college football.
Delany took over as the Big Ten commish in 1989, the next year he got Penn State to join the conference. He must have been a visionary as college football has exploded into a billion dollar industry in the last 10 or so years with huge bowl and television pay outs. Under his leadership the Big Ten created their own network and was responsible for the very exciting BigTen/ACC challenge in basketball.
When some ACC fans see the Big Ten, they can't help but feel a little bit of envy knowing that they got the better deal on the UNC graduates for conference commissioners. At least some ACC fans anyway.
Oliver Luck, West Virginia’s newly king of the Mountain, is considered a power player in any league. For that matter, being the father of this coming season’s Heisman Trophy winner Andrew Luck and likely first round draft pick, he’s likely going to be a power player in young Luck’s contract negotiation as well.
Luck has and continues to work WVU into position to receive an invite in one of the power conferences in the south when the next round of expansion hits. Both the SEC and ACC have listened to Luck’s pitch and the WVU athletic teams are doing their part winning on an grand scale. Perhaps more importantly, on an academic scale, Luck’s direction has WVU increasing their academic ratings and well as working on the WVU image.
Luck has actively pitched his Mountaineers to the ACC and SEC over the past months. Combine that with him leading the Big East athletic directors discussion on Big East expansion, and for good measure throw in the various calls he receives from NFL player personnel directors, no doubt the plugged in Luck works a full day.
When Oliver Luck puts in a call to anyone, that particular ‘anyone’ answers. Luck is one of the most professionally connected and respected administrators in the country.
Mike Slive, Oliver Luck, Jim Delaney, Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban could all be considered legendary figures. Without question, when they speak, folks listen up. These guys control things, big things.
However, consider the biggest power player in southern college football that isn’t a coach or an athletic director. Perhaps this person on some level speaks so loud it controls southern college football, and really football in general when it’s just a whisper.
With over 20 years experience in the sports industry, Jimmy Sexton was the youngest person ever licensed by the NBA and NFL to represent athletes in contract negotiations.
Sexton has negotiated numerous record breaking contracts i.e. Reggie White, Scottie Pippen, Isaac Bruce, etc. He represents such coaches as Bill Parcells, Nick Saban, Larry Coker, and many others. In November of 2000, USA Today reported that Jimmy negotiated two of the five largest coach’s contracts in college football.
Sexton’s accomplishments are staggering.
• Over 1 Billion dollars in player contracts negotiated since conception in 1984
• Represented over 20 First Round Draft picks
• Over 500 NFL, NBA, PGA, & MLB player contracts successfully negotiated since
conception in 1984
• Negotiated eight record-breaking contracts:
1. Reggie White - Highest paid defensive player in the NFL
2. Harry Galbreath - Highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL
3. Horace Grant - Highest paid Forward in the NBA
4. Aaron Glenn - Highest paid Cornerback in the NFL
5. Isaac Bruce - Highest paid Wide Receiver in the NFL
6. Scottie Pippen - Highest paid Small Forward in the NBA
7. Randy Thomas - Highest Paid Guard in the NFL
8. Jason Sehorn – Highest Paid Defensive Back in the NFL
• Creatively negotiated several NBA contracts, benefiting ARM clients, which resulted in three administrative rule changes
• Represented Reggie White during his time as lead plaintiff in the lawsuit that paved the way for free agency for all NFL players.
All impressive things for an obviously impressive career driven professional. However, all those numbers and awards aside, Jimmy Sexton is a power player of all power players because he represents the coaches, including Nick Saban. When Sexton makes a decision, or makes a call on something, he’s bringing power… a big stick. Perhaps even the biggest stick of them all.
Other notable power players:
Charles Bloom- SEC
Vern Lundquist- CBS Sports
Jeremy Foley- Florida athletic director
Urban Meyer- Former UF coach
Brent Musburger- ABC Sports
Mike Bianchi- Orlando Sentinel
Buddy Martin- ESPN Radio Gainesville
Max Howell- Legendary Radio Talk Jock
Jim Swofford- Commissioner of the ACC
Bruce Feldman- ESPN
Brent Musburger-CBS Sports
Paul Finebaum- Finebaum Radio Network
Vince Dooley- Former UGA coach and athletic director
Bobby Bowden- Former FSU coach and legend
Charles Davis- NFL Network
Lindy Davis- Lindy's
Mark A. Emmert- NCAA
Gene Deckerhoff- Voice of the FSU Noles
Tony Barnhart- Mr. College Football
Jimmy Johnson- Former Miami coach
Charles E. Dalton- Clemson's IPTAY president
Tim Brando- CBS Sports
Bill Roth- Voice of Virginia Tech