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SEC Straw Poll: Former Players Weigh in on Concussions, Paying Players and More


In a poll conducted by Athlon Sports, former SEC players say Florida and LSU are the toughest road trips.

Nearly all of them said they’ve sustained a concussion at some point in their careers. But almost none of them took money from a bag man or sold an autograph.

Through the course of the 2014 football season, Athlon Sports conducted a straw poll of 11 former SEC players, active from the late 1990s through the 2013 season.

In exchange for candid answers, Athlon granted our subjects anonymity on a wide variety of subjects from coaches they’d want to see work with their kids to advice they would give to their younger selves.

We also asked about some of the most pressing issues of the day regarding concussions and amateurism.

These are the results:

1. What is the toughest road trip in college football?

Four each:



One each:


Arkansas — “because it’s a two-hour drive from the airport.”

Mississippi State


Texas A&M

2. Which active coach would you want to coach your child?

Two each:

• Mark Richt, Georgia

• Nick Saban, Alabama

One each:

• Butch Jones, Tennessee

• Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech

• Gus Malzahn, Auburn

• Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

• Will Muschamp, Florida

• Tommy Tuberville, Cincinnati

Two each:

• No answer

3a. If your child could be a student-athlete at any school, which would you want it to be?

Two each:

• Alabama

• Kentucky

One each:

• “Oregon or Alabama”

• “Stanford or Harvard”

• Vanderbilt, “the Harvard of the South”

• Auburn

• Florida

• Notre Dame

• Tennessee


3b. Is this the same school you attended?

• 6 Yes

• 5 No

4. What was the biggest factor in recruiting that led you to pick the college you attended?

• “Playing the best of the best.”

• “Recruited to play WR, most schools recruited me to play D.B”

• “It was close to home and the love there was incredible.”

• “Location.”

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• “Connection to the head coach.”

• “Championship contender.”

• “Starting our own tradition and winning the SEC championship.”

• “Support system, close to family and friends.”

• “Grew up a fan.”

• “Close to home, great school.”

• “Opportunity to play right away.”

• “Home state.”

5. What piece of advice would you give to yourself at age 18 before beginning your college career?

• “Enjoy every last minute. It goes by fast.”

• “Focus from the moment you get on campus.”

• “Don’t pick a school based on football alone but a school that will make you a better person.”

• “Commit earlier to film study.”

• “It goes fast. Don’t worry. It works out well.”

• “Relax. You made it to the NFL.”

• “Don’t be so hard headed.”

• “Never take it for granted. Enjoy every moment.”

• “Time flies, enjoy it.”

• “Focus.”

• “Stay away from social media.”

• “Stay humble.”

6. What change in college athletics would you want to see in the next 5-10 years?

Five each:

Pay players (“or allow them to profit from their name and fame.”)

Other responses:

• "None"

• “Expand the playoff to eight teams, top four teams get a bye.”

• “Better medical support for athletes.”

• “Hold players more accountable to academics.”

• “Eight-team playoff.”

• “Better support system for students past playing years.”

• “No more NCAA.”

7a: Did you ever sustain a concussion or other serious head injury when you played in college?

• 8 Yes (one respondent expanded: “not all concussions were documented because as a competitor you always wanted to play.”

• 3 No

7b. How long after the concussion or head injury did you play or practice again?

• “Didn’t practice all week, but played the next Saturday because we were down by 14.”

• “A day or two.”

• “One week.”

• “One or two days later.”

• “Two days.”

• “Next day.”

• “No time missed.”

• “Right after.”

8. During your college career, did you ever sell your autograph or memorabilia?

• 10 No

• 1 “I wish.”

• 1 “Well... does the barter system count?”

9. During your college career or during recruiting, did you ever receive any impermissible benefits from a booster, agent or “bag man?”

• 9 No

• 2 Yes

• 1 “I wish.”