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NIL: New Issues Looming?

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

Written by Liam Gaudet

Photo by IrishSportsDaily

I would like to preface this article by stating that I wholeheartedly believe that college athletes should be compensated for their name, image and likeness. I believe this was a change that needed to be made for decades, and I am glad that the NCAA has made this long overdue adjustment to allow their athletes to flourish, not having to worry about their NFL careers being shattered by a heartbreaking injury during the final game of their career (Jaylon Smith, Matt Corral, Jameson Williams to name just a few). What I cannot accept, however, is the idea of implementing this system with little to no guidelines or restrictions in place, creating a landscape of tampering and a collegiate free-agent frenzy. This is what the NCAA decided to do this previous season, and has caused headaches for everyone who genuinely enjoys the sport. Recruiting is the cornerstone for success in college football. If you ask the average five star kid which program (on average) they would like to attend, they would more than likely come up with a short list including programs such as Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia, etc. Programs that have established themselves as contenders and development hotspots as the “mecca” of college football - sorry Lincoln Riley. These programs have built their success the right way, relying on nobody but their own staff to allow these athletes to reach their athletic potential, and preparing them for the next level. Who wouldn’t want to go to one of these programs with a track record of tremendous success? The answer may actually surprise you. I’m not saying that you absolutely have to attend one of these programs if you’re a highly rated recruit. It would be naive of me to think that individual success can only be confined within the stadiums of proven national title contenders. But when a record-setting recruiting class is hauled in at a school like Texas A&M... Then some eyebrows are raised. Texas A&M has not won a national title since 1939, hell, they haven’t even won an SEC championship. Their last conference title was in 1998, when they were still a part of the BIG 12. College station has been bleak since the departure of Johnny Football, posting a modest winning percentage and conference record over the past few seasons. Generally, you could describe Aggie football as good, but not great. I’ll give credit where credit is due, I think Jimbo Fisher is a good head coach. He has recruited well, but has failed to meet expectations in terms of competing for conference and national championships like he had previously at Florida State. All of that changed suddenly when Jimbo managed to haul in the number one recruiting class - ever - during the 2022 cycle. Eight five stars. Eight. To put that into perspective, Texas A&M nearly accounted for a quarter of all five star caliber players according to 247 composite rankings. So why the sudden interest in A&M? It really isn’t rocket science. Jimbo and his boosters are more than likely handing out six to seven figure “deals” to these recruits behind the scenes in order to get ahead. Although this has been adamantly denied by Jimbo and people within the program, it’s very difficult to come up with other valid reasons for this class. Oh, you’re telling me they want to compete for championships? There are at minimum two better teams in the conference that stand a much better chance at doing that. I can say that beyond a reasonable doubt, there is something going on related to NIL which can be attributed to A&M’s recruiting success. I’m not just here to drag on A&M. There are plenty of other schools who have a track record of shady backroom deals that no longer have to lurk in the shadows. I’m of course referring to the Tennessee Volunteers, the proverbial SEC punching bag. It wasn’t too long ago

that the entire football world was laughing at them for handing recruits thousands of dollars in McDonald’s bags (yes, you read that right) and getting heavily sanctioned by the NCAA. It is absolutely unsurprising to me when I found out their new recruiting strategy in the NIL era: Throw millions of dollars at the feet of highschool kids instead of making an earnest effort to recruit them. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Five star quarterback Nico Iamaleava recently committed to Tennessee after many considered him to be an Oregon lean. He dropped his top five programs, and many thought he would take his time on making a final decision. Nope. A few days later, he announced his decision to commit to the Vols. It was later announced that Tennessee had set up an NIL deal for Iamaleava worth eight million dollars. I don’t fault the kid for taking that deal, I think anyone in their right mind wouldn’t turn that down. I do think that is an absolutely ridiculous and outlandish amount of money for a kid that has never played a snap of high level football, though. Tennessee brought a gun to a knife fight to ensure they had their quarterback, and it didn’t sit right with the majority of the college football community. Now we’ve discussed the instances of recruits going to the highest bidder, but these aren’t even the worst instances of the NIL power shift. Lincoln Riley, a man who has done everything to tarnish his reputation as much as possible, is back once again to prove why he’s the most hated man in college football. It recently came to light that Pitt standout receiver and Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison would be entering the transfer portal. From an outside standpoint, the move made complete sense. Pitt had just lost their record setting quarterback in Kenny Pickett, and Addison was looking to go somewhere to further increase his draft stock. This isn’t anything new. Or so we thought. Rumors had started to circulate that Riley had offered Addison upwards of three million dollars as well as a house in southern California to put his name into the portal and transfer to USC. Now, I’m no expert when it comes to NCAA regulations, but to me, that seems like the dictionary definition of tampering. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi apparently shared the same feelings, and reportedly reached out to Riley to tell him how cowardly that move was. I believe that at this point, Riley should be held responsible for his actions or things like this will just continue to get worse.


Photo by Slapthesign As a genuine fan of the sport, nothing about NIL as it stands makes any sense without intervention from the NCAA right now. From wads of cash to straight up theft, rules need to be put in place. The good news? The NCAA recently released a statement, which prevents boosters and affiliates of colleges from negotiating with playes and their respective circles. There are plans to punish programs who provide “outrageous and unreasonable” NIL deals to players. This will likely put a damper on programs willing to fork over ridiculous amounts of money in recruiting efforts. Until these rules are set in stone, however, the world of NIL is still the wild, wild west. There is so much volatility that exists within this new world of college football, and where we got from here rests in the hands of the NCAA.

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