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B1G Thoughts: Is NIL ruining college football?

In this edition of B1G Thoughts, Jordan tackles NIL issues, QB transfers, coaching hires, and recruiting rankings.

NC State v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Every week I will be bringing you some B1G thoughts on everything that happened! This will include analysis, stats, key players, moments and maybe a joke or two. Be sure to check out the I-70 Football Show in the Land-Grant Holy Land podcast feed for more in-depth analysis and to preview the next week of B1G games.

Is NIL ruining College Football?

Do you remember when bag men were ruining college football? (Insert University) had a few shadowy figures who would meet with recruits and their families and provide cold hard cash in order to convince them to commit to their school. Sometimes they were coaches, other times boosters, occasionally they were execs from major companies like Nike and Under Armor.

Most of these pay offs were nothing more than rumors, but every time your favorite team lost a major recruit it had to be because of bag men from another school bribing the player to commit.

Well, goodbye bag men and hello NIL. This past early signing period was rampant with NIL rumors, especially for Texas schools, and specifically from OSU fans when Texas flipped Terrance Brooks, a four-star corner from Texas who had been committed to the Buckeyes, and landed former OSU QB Quinn Ewers as a transfer.

It felt like all of the fans who were anti-NIL — and many fans on the fence — came to the decision that NIL was ruining college football based on a few recruits signing with schools like Texas, Texas A&M, and surprisingly Jackson State. We all know that NIL is legal in college sports today, but that doesn’t stop the speculation about whether or not these deals are essentially pay-for-play schemes which are absolutely not legal according to NCAA bylaws.

Thanks to this confusion, certain fans and media members have chosen to yell from the mountain tops that NIL is ruining everything, even though there’s been very little change in the annual recruiting standings. Ohio State, Alabama and Georgia are still in the top five. Texas A&M has their best class ever, but is that because of NIL? Beating Bama? Jimbo’s job security? Or the fact that they can sign extra players due to a one-year roster management rule that was approved to help make up for roster attrition from the extra Covid year? I don’t know the answer for sure and I can bet that no one reading this does.

What I do know is this: NIL is not ruining college football. It may seem out of control and in a few years I’m sure there will be tweaks and changes based on what we’ve learned in the early going.

Even if I’m wrong and if schools are illegally hiding their nefarious pay-for-play schemes behind the facade of NIL sponsorships, it still won’t ruin college football. That is because the single worst thing in college football is coaches making millions of dollars off the hard work of these players, athletic departments getting valued as billion-dollar companies, and media outlets making billions while the players get nothing.

No matter what name, image, and likeness rights eventually turn into, there is finally a system where players can get paid for their hard work, the risk to their body, and the sacrifices that they make daily to participate in college athletics. I don’t care what anyone says, that is not a bad thing. It is making the sport better because for the first time ever, everyone is eating — not just coaches, athletic directors, and media companies.

Quarterback Transfers

The QB carousel has taken off and I am not sure it is every going to recover. Over the last few years, we have been trending towards a system where having a backup quarterback is almost impossible. Quarterbacks want to play, and they want to play early. We’re long past the point were the only people who transferred were college graduates. We just saw Quinn Ewers transfer from Ohio State after less than six months with the team. It’s time to accept that quarterback movement is the new norm in college football. If you get excited by the NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL free agency periods, you’ve got to love CFB version as well.

Since the end of the regular season, multiple Big Ten teams have been affected by QB transfers. Ohio State lost Ewers and Jack Miller III, though his final desitnation has not yet been announced. Indiana’s starting quarterback Michael Penix Jr has transferred to Washington while Nebraska’s longtime QB Adrian Martinez is now at Kansas State. Penn State also lost their back up for the second season in a row as Will Levis transferred to Kentucky last year and Ta’Quan Roberson has entered the portal this year.

Like NIL, the transfer portal is here to stay, and coaches are going to have to earn these million-dollar contracts by managing their roster and trying to keep more than one good quarterback in the room. It won’t be easy, but that’s why they get paid the big bucks.

Ohio State hires Jim Knowles

Ohio State has a rich history of great defenses. The best units on that side of the ball have long been dubbed the Silver Bullets and that legacy is a very high standard for current and future players to live up to.

It may be impossible to match the Silver Bullets’ dominance in this era of offensive football, but what the Buckeyes have settled for the past four years is unacceptable. In what may be the biggest decision of his young career, Ryan Day brought the empty checkbook down to Stillwater, Okla. and came back with star defensive coordinator Jim Knowles.

Knowles headlined the second-best defense in college football this year and will be tasked with bringing the Silver Bullets back to Columbus. The soon to be former Oklahoma State DC was the hottest name on the market, and while no one knows for sure how successful he will be in Columbus, it is encouraging that Day stepped outside of the Ohio State family and grabbed the coach that every team in America wanted.

Now all that Day must do is get out of Knowles’ way and let him run this defense with full control, including choosing who to keep and fire from the current staff.

Penn State hires Manny Diaz

Ohio State wasn’t the only Big Ten program who needed to replace a defensive coordinator. Penn State had to replace theirs, although under much better circumstances, as their out-going DC was successful enough to get a head coaching job. Brent Pry will now be the new head coach at Virginia Tech.

For the first time in 10 plus years, James Franklin had to make a hire for the top ranked defensive coach and he swung for the fences. You never know how a long-tenured coach will deal with change, unlike Dabo Swinney, Franklin went outside the family and hired a big-name coach who just hit the market.

Diaz, the former head coach at Miami (FL), was promoted from defensive coordinator and brought a swagger to the Hurricanes with the turnover chain. As much as I would like to see an iced out Nittany Lion, I’m not sure that’s what Diaz will be bringing to State College. He has some big shoes to fill, but credit to Franklin for thinking outside the Nittany Lion box and going big.

B1G Recruiting Rankings

Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football, and there is a reason that Ohio State is one of the best programs in America — their impressive collection of talent. All season long, I have been yelling that we should fire all of the coaches in the Big Ten West. Now, that was mainly because of the awful play on the field and lack of quarterbacks on their rosters, but these recruiting rankings, courtesy of 247Sports, back up this belief as seven of the top eight classes in the conference can be found in the East division.

  1. Ohio State
  2. Penn State
  3. Michigan
  4. Indiana
  5. Michigan State
  6. Iowa
  7. Rutgers
  8. Maryland
  9. Purdue
  10. Minnesota
  11. Wisconsin
  12. Illinois
  13. Northwestern
  14. Nebraska

If you’re a fan of a team in the West, especially if you’re a Nebraska fan, you should write a letter to your athletic director, president, and boosters and ask them to get rid of your coach. There will be no progress with recruiting results like these.