In the last few years, college football and the rest of college athletics have introduced two great ideas: the NCAA Transfer Portal and Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL).
The transfer portal is a fantastic idea for college football, as it can represent a fresh start for players who feel that things didn’t work out for their original school. It also allows players from mid-majors to exhibit their talents at schools that NFL scouts are more familiar with. That way, when it comes time for the draft they have a better chance of hearing their names called.
The portal is absolutely necessary for today’s game given the volatility of coaching staffs and rosters from year to year.
NIL is also an awesome idea for college football, as the players, who put their bodies on the line and bring in tons of revenue to their universities, are finally able to make money off of their names. However, the intended effect of NIL was for players to sign endorsement deals and autographs, and benefit from their names being tied to the school they play for.
That simply isn’t what is happening, as the scope of NIL has far exceeded what it was supposed to be. Nonetheless, its intended use was a great idea in theory.
Unfortunately, the combination of these two ideas is causing major issues in college football, and has essentially legalized pay-for-play schemes.
When is the last time that it was reported that a coach openly offered a national award-winning player seven figures to come to play for his team and nothing was done about it? I’ll save you the time of a google search: it hasn’t happened, because we are in an unprecedented time. Sure, these things have gone on behind closed doors in the past, as paying players under the table, or in McDonald’s bags, has been going on for years. Now, there aren’t repercussions for any of it, and that will eventually destroy the sport systematically.
Think about it.
The NFL free agency market is being used as a comparison for what we are seeing in college football, but the NFL has strict tampering laws and binding contracts with their players to ensure that things like this don’t happen.
Right now, the NCAA doesn’t have anything like that in place, and now Lincoln Riley is free to offer Pitt wide receiver, Jordan Addison, over $1 million dollars to play for USC. That is 100% tampering, but for now, nobody is doing a damn thing about it.
So, what is the NCAA planning to do?
Well, on Thursday, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey traveled to Washington D.C. to discuss possible legislation to regulate what is happening with NIL, but it could be months before real changes are made.
If this goes on for any number of years, we could see the talent gap get even wider between the Top 10 programs and everyone else.
We just saw it in basketball, as Nijel Pack left K-State for an $800,000 NIL deal at Miami. It was reported that he didn’t discuss the deal until after he was committed to Miami, but are we really buying that? Are we really naive enough to think that deep-pocketed boosters aren’t jumping at every opportunity to make their favorite teams better in an instant by using their pocketbooks?
The NCAA needs to fix this right now, and it’s clear that Mark Emmert wasn’t the man to take them there. Get a new leader in place, put more pressure on Congress to get this legislation done, and fix this. Otherwise, we are all going to sit and watch college football become the NFL and we don’t want that.
College football is about the pageantry and the tradition, not playing for a new contract or getting upset about what you’re being paid and leaving for the next highest bidder. That’s what makes it the best sport on the planet, but that is all in jeopardy unless we find a way to fix this.