The beginning of College Football free agency

It hasn’t even been a year since the ruling came down about college athletes making money from their name, image, and likeness or NIL for short.

Although still early, the NIL era has seen players lock down deals with some huge brands and agents to make sure they are getting everything they’re worth. But as we began to roll into the first offseason with the NIL ruling in place, we’ve all begun to see the dark side effects of the new age of college sports.

The NIL was supposed to be a huge jump into the right direction for players to get paid, but with the introduction of the transfer portal a few years earlier, the NIL has started to move into becoming a full fledge free agency.

This being the opposite of what the NCAA wanted to see.

Pay for Play History

For years now, we have come to learn and accept that players have, before the NIL ruling, been getting paid to play college sports, but under the table. In 1987, the NCAA imposed its first ever “Death Penalty” ruling to the SMU football program because several of its star players were being paid to play. The ruling canceled all football operations for SMU for 1 year, but the school also cancelled the 1988 season. This moment in history crippled the program for decades.

Other programs like Miami have also been under the microscope of the NCAA a few times. In the mid-90’s the program was sanctioned for lack of institutional control which included paying players. In the early to mid 2000s, Miami, again was sanctioned by the NCAA, but this time because of a booster providing benefits to the players. Some of these players went on to be huge NFL super stars.

Although Miami has had issues in the pass with pay for play, Miami is at the forefront of doing it the right way this time around. Billionaire donor, John Ruiz, has help give many of the Miami player NIL opportunities.

Hindsight being 20/20, I bet the NCAA would have rather have that kind of pay for play than what we are seeing now. Active players and high school recruits are being swayed by NIL opportunities. It’s hard to tell a player to commit or stay at one program when on social media a kid going to XYZ university is getting paid $500 thousand or more for a NIL opportunity at another school.

Until now, the NCAA has been silent to what has transpired this offseason because of the lack of power they currently hold. The NCAA has been scrutinized for years for not allowing players to be paid, and now that the supreme court is behind the players as well, the NCAA has little to no true power at all.

The NCAA

As expected, NCAA recently spoke up to state that they will be putting in place some parameters for the NIL. This comes after many individuals inside college sports started to question some of the NIL deals that have been highlighted this offseason. One in particular sent a shockwave across recruiting when a 5-star high school recruit was reported to have signed an $8 million NIL deal with a school’s collective.

Granted, we’re shock at the amount of money, but also the simple fact that the kid hasn’t even played a down of college football. The NCAA rules prevents players from accepting NIL deals that is dictated on them signing or staying at a particular school. You’ll be foolish to believe that isn’t the case.

The noise for change got a little lauder last week when last year’s Biletnikoff Award winner, Jordan Addison, enter his name into the transfer portal. It is to believe that an NIL offer is on the table at USC depending on if he decides to play. Addison was named the nation’s top wide receiver in 2021 and chose to return to raise his draft stock.

While staying at Pitt would have been great for the school, it probably wouldn’t have been the best place for Addison to raise his draft stock. Schools like USC and Miami are expected to be teams pursuing Addison because they have two of the most elite quarterbacks returning from last year. In order for Addison to raise his draft stock he would most likely need an elite QB to do so.

Addison isn’t the first star player this year to transfer for the betterment of his career. Like I mentioned, USC has one of the top quarterbacks returning to college football this year in Caleb Williams. Williams was also a star transfer this off season for USC. Even Alabama, the juggernaut of college football, added some star talent to its depth chart. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs was added to the Alabama roster through the portal via Georgia Tech. Gibbs is considered to be one of the top 5 returning players at his position.

What makes Addison’s move more interesting is because a rumor leaked that he was leaving Pitt because of a presumed NIL deal. As we get closer to the season, it will be interesting to see how things shake out for the new landscape of college athletics.

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