For the past several years, with many college coaches harboring the perception that their pro counterparts often lured standout underclass players away from their campuses and into the draft, the informal alliance that existed between the universities and the NFL was a somewhat shaky one.
That tenuous coexistence seems to have turned testy.
At least for now.
ESPN.com learned earlier this week from multiple league sources that the Pacific 10 Conference has decided that NFL scouts cannot review tape of the conference's players while visiting their campuses. Furthermore, the Pac-10 has decided that it will not provide video to the so-called "dub center," the facility that produces duplicate copies of the game tapes.
Those moves were confirmed by Pac-10 associate commissioner Jim Muldoon. But Muldoon suggested the current situation might be only temporary, and that the two sides are discussing a resolution.
"Along with some other conferences, we're talking to the NFL to come up with some sort [of policy]," said Muldoon, who suggested that an agreement is forthcoming. "I think it will be resolved very soon."
Any prolonged inaccessibility to the Pac-10 tapes will make an already difficult job that much tougher for West Coast talent evaluators. The Pac-10 has produced 159 draft choices, including 18 first-round selections, in the past five drafts. The conference is a treasure trove of future NFL talent, and scouts rely on the tape to evaluate players.
While the scouts remain optimistic a deal will be struck, some bird dogs are concerned that the NFL and the Pac-10 will not be able to reach an accord. The bigger fear, however, is that the current Pac-10 policy could be adopted by other major conferences.
Such a move would certainly disrupt the evaluation process.
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