The debate on how to properly govern name, image and likeness in college football has been raging ever since laws were passed at the state level last year. Partially fueling the debate is a relative lack of knowledge of just how much money is being funneled to players through third-party “collectives.” However, Ohio State coach Ryan Day has pegged an actual dollar figure on what his program needs just to maintain a championship-caliber roster in college football‘s new world.
Day and Buckeyes athletic director Gene Smith told business leaders in Columbus that they’ll need $13 million in NIL money just to keep their roster intact, according to Cleveland.com. Day believes that total would include money generated through collectives that have been created since the NIL policies went into place.
“One phone call, and they’re [players] out the door,” Day said. “We cannot let that happen at Ohio State. I’m not trying to sound the alarm, I’m just trying to be transparent about what we’re dealing with.”
Day doesn’t feel like that $13 million figure is going too far when it compares to what other schools are doing, or could do in the future, with their NIL programs.
“If the speed limit’s 45 miles per hour, and you drive 45 miles per hour, a lot of people are going to pass you by,” Day said. “If you go too fast, you’re going to get pulled over.”
Some of the numbers that have been tossed around since last summer are staggering. Former Ohio State quarterback Quinn Ewers reportedly signed a $1.4 million NIL deal prior to the Buckeyes’ first game last season. He eventually transferred to Texas after not taking a meaningful snap. It’s safe to say that current Ohio State quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist C.J. Stroud is worth much more than that after his performance in 2021.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said that quarterback Bryce Young — the eventual winner of the Heisman Trophy — was approaching $1 million in NIL money before the 2021 season even began. The Athletic reported earlier this year that an unnamed five-star QB in the 2023 recruiting class has agreed to a deal that could pay him upwards of $8 million. Sports Illustrated reported in May that the entry point for recruiting in the NIL era is around $5 million.
Day’s $13 million statement comes on the heels of the high-profile feud between Alabama coach Nick Saban and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher, ignited by Saban’s claim that the Aggies “bought” every player on their team (Texas A&M’s 2022 class is rated as the best of all time by 247Sports). Saban said earlier this week that there needs to be uniformity to what seems like an out-of-control aspect of college athletics.
“We need some kind of transparency in name, image and likeness deals to verify that players are doing what they need to do to have the opportunity to make money in name, image and likeness,” Saban said. “And believe me, I’m all for players making as much as they can make, OK. But I also think that we’ve got to have some uniform, transparent way to do that. Our players did extremely well last year in name, image and likeness because they got agents, they had representation, they had people who wanted them to actually endorse something for them, and they did very, very well. That’s public record, and you can see how well they did.”
It is against NCAA rules for schools to use NIL opportunities in the recruiting process. Smith recognizes that and hopes it can be addressed. “Unscrupulous characters are good at what they do, and it’s always been that way,” he said.
Smith’s program is doing just fine right now, and it’s hard to imagine that the Buckeyes stumble anytime soon. In order to prevent that from happening, it’s clear that Day and Smith are ready to do what it takes to stay competitive on and off the field.