Are NIL deals sustainable for the future of college football?
By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Jeremy Bryant
Name Image Likeness deals have become a major boon for college football players who can now make money through their college years, but Alabama head coach Nick Saban said he feels as though the current structure should not be the long-term answer. Saban spoke with the Associated Press last week, discussing why he thinks college football has come to a place where college roster spots are being bought, not earned.
“The concept of name, image and likeness was for players to be able to use their name, image and likeness to create opportunities for themselves. That’s what it was,” Saban told AP. “So last year on our team, our guys probably made as much or more than anybody in the country.”
One of the players Saban could be speaking of is the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young. Last year, there were reports suggesting Young made close to $1 million in NIL earnings.
The question now becomes, could Saban’s equal-pay proposal be the answer? He proposed a possible solution to even out the system and give each player on the Tide’s roster the same amount of money.
In theory, it’s a great idea, but a newcomer to the team making the same amount as an experienced starter may not go over well with some players.
Players getting paid has made college sports more diverse in determining who has the most stardom across the nation, but it has also leveled the playing field for schools searching for top talent. Recruiting is the main component to a team’s success, and the reports of Texas A&M spending north of $30 million to lock up the N0.1 recruiting class in 2022 only added to the fire of high-profile coaches being against the NIL deal law. Jackson State also made headlines when they were able to capture the No.1 high school prospect in the 2022 class.
High school prospects were once accustomed to choosing the program that has a championship culture or the school that gets on national television every week for a faster route to the NFL. A benefit that could keep the NIL law around for a while could be that players can freely choose and stay in college instead of making hard choices like Peyton Barber did in 2o16.
Barber was a productive multi-year starter for the Auburn Tigers, but he left college early for the draft because he needed to earn money for his family.
The next step for the NCAA may be to decide how far will players push the limits before they step in to regulate what Saban calls a “caste system.”