NIL ~ Name Image Licensing Stories
Han Vance on American college football: For the first time, college football players will soon be allowed to use their image, name, personal brand for commercial financial benefit while retaining full amateur eligibility standards.
Tip of the iceberg toward paying the players for what they earn. This is the revolution which shall be televised.
The vast majority of good college players are never name-brand professional athletes. They may get a cup of coffee in the NFL, make a practice team simulating opponents for the real active roster in practices, get to the bench and keep it as warm as possible in, say, Buffalo. Sure, they may play and be a star. But statistically, even good college players, are less likely to be pro stars than they are to end up out of the league within just a few seasons, with their glory years behind them at a young age.
Coming out of high school as a five-star, a young man is expected to carry on to the NFL Pro Bowl, and it just isn’t always realistic. Few do; most don’t.
The lifetime brand earning potential for the others may very well be when they are still in the amateur ranks, another reason of several why big money college football is (my favorite) hypocrisy. It nets many millions for the coaches, while the kids who take the hits are not even allowed to get a part-time job.
I’ll be keeping a close focus on NIL, in general, and I wanted to mention a fable of what-ifs I’ve contemplated previously about Georgia football, for my Dawgfans out there reading.
One of the strongest points of proof that noted do-gooder Mark Richt tried to run the cleanest program he possibly could, is actually the suspensions of his two most dominant position players. Many may say Aaron Murray dominated the single most, when looking at the fact that he has every major stat in the whole SEC. But Murray was never the single best guy in the whole sport at his position, while Todd Gurley and A.J. Green surely were.
Murray never panned out as a pro. He was a legend while at UGA.
In Richt’s only bad year of a 15-year head coaching career at UGA, A.J. Green was suspended to start Aaron Murray’s (redshirt) freshman year, when he first started at QB for Georgia. The team started a horrid 1-4 and rallied, but with A.J. leading the receivers, the record would have obviously been better. Resultant: Richt would have no bad years on his Georgia resume, and would have had too high of a winning percentage established for Kirby Smart to (barely) supplant him as the UGA coach with the highest career winning percentage.
A.J. sold a jersey, you know, a piece of merch which represented his image. He said he needed the money.
The much bigger one is Todd Gurley. After covering the Atlanta Hawks for a Sports Illustrated brand and seeing my first ever professional sports article, “Coach Bud is Not the Problem” published at SI.com, I was confident enough to pitch their national college football editor on an article on Georgia football. Todd Gurley will win the Heisman. He wasn’t so sure a running back had the shine to do that. He was wrong and I was right: Gurley was the clear frontrunner in the Heisman projections at mid-season.
My daughter’s first Georgia game saw a hurdling, heroic Gurley, now an Atlanta Falcons RB, even throw the biggest pass of the game, a Homecoming win over little Vandy.
We stayed in the Indigo Inn, my alumna wife and little cheerleader and I. Soon my red-and-black world crumbled. Todd would have to sit, the team would be in turmoil, Chubb would emerge as partial savior, but the legit national championship contender who had beaten up Clemson in the opener… Our powerful team wound up in a lesser bowl in Charlotte. The drama was about Todd Gurley selling his likeness.
Had there been NIL allowed, Georgia athletic director Mark Richt would be the type of AD who really gets the power of college football, the type of leader to make us all proud for decades to come. Coach Kirby, his former protege from the 2005 SEC championship season, would enjoy the oversight of an AD with real knowledge.