We now have an idea of how much NIL money a major college football program’s players can collectively earn.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day said Thursday morning that he thinks it takes $13 million in endorsement deals to keep his roster intact. Day’s remarks at a school business event were reported by Cleveland.com and he said that a top quarterback can request $2 million in NIL deals.
Day said the Buckeyes have been gathering information by talking to recruits and their families and getting a sense of what other schools might be discussing with NIL deals. He said he believes right now top-shelf quarterbacks require $2 million in NIL money. Major offensive tackles and edge rushers he said are about $1 million.
If you can’t match that, other teams might have a chance to pluck key players from your roster. Day told the assembled potential NIL donors that every player on the team could go in the transfer portal when this season ends, and then field calls from other schools who might be offering NIL deals. Players may feel they have to take that money to help their families.
Day’s comments make it very reasonable to think that Ohio State quarterback and 2021 Heisman finalist C.J. Stroud is easily making over $1 million in endorsement deals ahead of the 2022 season. Rose Bowl star wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba is also likely making $1 million or more in what could be his final college season.
The ability for players to get endorsement deals is seen as a major factor for so much player movement this offseason. Players have realized they can position themselves for better endorsement opportunities through companies owned by boosters at other schools and with the ability to now transfer without sitting out a year, many are exploring their options even if it's still technically against NCAA rules for a player to be recruited by the potential of more endorsement money.
But the NCAA's lack of clear guidelines and enforcement regarding players' image rights have made policing the issue nearly impossible. And as college football enters its second season of players being able to make money off their own image rights, the longtime power structure of the sport has shifted mightily in the last year. Coaches and teams once wielded all the power with players unable to freely make money under NCAA rules and unable to switch schools without sitting out a year or a waiver from the NCAA.
Now players and recruits are realizing the power that they wield to earn money from boosters and other business entities. And the recruiting side of that, as you likely know, was the impetus for the feud between Alabama's Nick Saban and Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher in May after Saban said that A&M had "bought" every player in its 2022 recruiting class through name, image and likeness deals. Fisher, who said Wednesday that he's moved on from the beef, called Saban a "narcissist" in response and said that Saban's comments were "despicable."