NIL Reality for Nebraska

Really sorry for a little bit of sobering reading this morning with how well the recruiting went yesterday for us. I kind of went off the poll from last week. We will get it back on track with positivity tomorrow!

If you’re like me, you were pretty worried about what NIL would make college football. But then you took a look at things and said “well with our fan support maybe NIL will be a great thing for us in Lincoln”. And i’m sure you saw this tweet over a year ago, as someone just quoted it to me the other day:

Nebraska was sitting 3rd in the NIL rankings for what people thought we would be. ABM had been started by Lambrecht who was Frost’s right hand man, and we were well on our way to getting back to the prominence we once were with this new found cheat code that was NIL that would benefit us.

There was only one problem, Nebraska was trying to do it the way the NCAA intended it to be. We would talk to recruits and say “you can tweet about Runza” or other companies like that. “We have so much fan support here that as soon as you take off businesses will be lining up to get you in a commercial.” It made sense, there’s a ton of support for our beloved Cornhuskers. What Nebraska didn’t see coming was the fact that many schools were going to just give recruits money to sign. No need for the tweet or to spend time on a commercial, just ink your name and we are good.

Now, it’s important to state that all of the points i’m going to make in this post are with arbitrary numbers… no one really knows the exact amount for things. But i’m going to level-set everyone on where we are right now (which will be sobering), but then bring it back to where we can go. We start with what A&M did last year:

We had no money for the recruits on signing day, while A&M put 30-35 million towards them. We were setting them up to have businesses get them money when they signed. And if you don’t believe me, take a look at the 2022 recruiting class rankings. Nebraska with their “#3 ranking in NIL” finished in the bottom half for overall recruiting class in the B1G for the first time since joining the conference. Further, Nebraska finished behind Iowa, Indiana, and Michigan State (on top of the normal Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan) for our worst overall ranking per recruit since joining the conference (7th). So if you really think we were or are where we need to be for NIL, or if you believe we are 3rd in NIL, based on where we finished NIL either A) doesn’t matter or B) it does matter and we aren’t actually where we need to be.

Judging by A&M spending a ton of money and getting the #1 class in 2022, and me knowing things like us not being ready and Nebraska finishing with the worst class since joining the conference, i’m pretty sure the answer is B. Unfortunately most of this post will be proving that we aren’t great in the NIL world right now, but we will end it with us finally figuring it out.

I went to a speech from Matt Davison in the spring of 2022, where he told a group of people “we are extremely lucky to have had the new football project approved before NIL, because now people are having to choose between the two… NIL or new facilities. And most are choosing NIL.” That was an interesting shift for the world of college football. But then I started thinking about something I read earlier. So A&M had the #1 recruiting class, but also was doing this:

Again, arbitrary numbers but they paid 35 million for the class AND they are building a new facility I was told by a main football staffer they had to choose between? It lets me know we just weren’t quite sure what was going on. To further the pain here… our 165 million dollar football facility took over a year to get fully funded. Again, i’m just trying to paint the picture that we don’t quite have the NIL resources people think. Boone Pickens donated more than that over a decade ago to Oklahoma State for a football project. Phil Knight has donated over a billion to University of Oregon. But Nebraska was sitting and waiting for more donors to step up. For everyone that says “we have plenty of boosters and money”, why was it taking us so long to get there with our football facility?

Want me to really blow your mind? So we figured out that we needed to pay people to just come here… and we did a great job at that shortly after. Casey Thompson commits and Trey Palmer comes on up with Mickey with a sweet NIL deal. Only one problem, we actually ran out of money. Don’t believe me? One of our top transfers was told he had to wait to sign for us to get the cash to him. It’s almost too crazy to believe, but i’ll add some more points to this to let you guys see just how far behind we were. We were scrambling to scrape up any booster donations we could get to add a few more pieces.

According to On3 sports, Nebraska only had one player on the top 100 for NIL dollars, and that was Trey Palmer. You have schools like Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota, Northwestern, all with guys that according to On3 have higher NIL grades/deals than our top guy. Now, do I fully believe the valuations and those things on there? No, but they aren’t as far off as us being #3 18 months ago for NIL then finishing with the worst class since joining the conference. So again, either we are really good at NIL and just don’t promote that we are which would be the dumbest thing ever, or we just aren’t there yet.

Another one that I hear all the time is “Casey Thompson came here from Texas and he said our NIL is just as good if not better!” First, what do you think the kid is going to say? He’s trying to get help up here. Second, this is the same guy that told us Nebraska’s OL is just as good if not better than Texas’. I mean, Texas gives every single OL recruit 50k just for being on scholarship there.

I know an OL here that would be one of our top guys from an NIL standpoint on the OL, he isn’t getting 50k, probably closer to half of that. To further solidify my point, Casey Thompson isn’t even in the top100 for NIL valuation according to On3, where he is “getting” roughly 340k. Arch Manning’s valuation to play QB for Texas is 3.5 million. I just get so frustrated talking to people that aren’t looking at the actual facts of what’s going on, and just think “Nebraska has a ton of corporate headquarters” or “look at our sellout streak.” Fan loyalty is completely different than throwing millions at the football team for players like these loser SEC trust fund babies are doing. I mean, our biggest potential donor is The Oracle. How much money do you think Uncle Warren is throwing to the collectives for NIL? Not much, if any. He donates to the business school, or the schools as a whole, who have nothing to do with NIL.

So let’s get into our collective. ABM dissolved less than 2 years into starting it, and we start two new ones. That obviously is not good, you can’t just start collectives then shut them down and start new ones. So that’s a problem right there. But we have the 1890 collective with Matt Davison and the Big Red Collaborative by Kris Brown out of Omaha. 1890 collective had less than 500 followers on Twitter before their second tweet yesterday (had one in October when formed, one yesterday for signing day). I have three times as many as that. The Big Red Collaborative has 441 followers. I’m a nobody with a blog and basically have three times as many followers as our two main collectives.

So I know what you’re thinking because it’s been said to me many times… “they are probably just focusing on big donors that don’t tweet.” Texas A&M who had the #1 recruiting class in the country thanks to some massive donations, has 29k followers on Twitter. So if that is the reason, we are really missing the boat.

We have got to do better. I had people reach out to me on how they can help, and that’s the point I tried making to people. Have you seen ANYTHING on how you can donate to our NIL? I haven’ t seen anything. I posted this from Kansas State’s collective and how even they seem to be more advanced than us right now:

I posted that and got a response of “it just looks cheap, at Nebraska we don’t need to do that.” Ok… well if all of the things I listed previously don’t clue you in on how far behind we are. Or if you think we don’t need to do this. Texas A&M and their foundation let’s you donate as little as 10 dollars per month. We need to take money from anywhere and everywhere right now. Why is one of the biggest collectives doing it and since “we are Nebraska with our worst class since joining the B1G” too good to do it? It just doesn’t add up to me. Further, are we really too proud to at least steer people in the right direction on Twitter?

And what really sucks is the fact that Wazzu is having to get NIL money just to keep players, so once you get your recruits inked it you still gotta increase their NIL money if they start performing. Just see Ernest Hausmann to Michigan:

We just weren’t ready. Our fans didn’t know how to help. We shut down our only collective then opened two more. And during a coaching transition it made things even worse.

Last thing on this… Oregon had one of the top 3 signing days this year per multiple outlets. And Stewart Mandel came with this tweet about their collectives:

Have you heard anything like the tweets i’ve shared about ABM, 1890, or Big Red Collective? You haven’t. We weren’t ready, we got left in the dust, and we are lucky to be a top 40 NIL situation right now. Just go look back up top with the points i’ve made in this, you’re delusional if you still think we are a major player with NIL.

Wooooo-Sahhhh, back to positivity

But let’s go back positive here… it is my opinion that 1890 will be our main one that the University works with. Matt Davison did an unreal job fundraising for the facility, and quite frankly I think that is the role he is best suited for. I have a good idea that in the next month we should see something from 1890 and possibly the Big Red Collective about how you can sign up to donate and how we can help as everyday fans.

And the other thing to remember, is that the University really can’t have any involvement in the fundraising for this at all. There is a loose affiliation where Rhule can essentially say what they are needing and hope that one of them has enough in the reserve to help with a signing we need, or can get one of their donors to pony up.

We don’t have the boosters like what A&M, Michigan, Oregon, Ohio State or thers have. However, we have a ton of people like you and I that can donate 10 dollars here and there… and that money adds up in a hurry. We also have big time donors like the Peed’s and Hawks that can help. But for every one of those we have, A&M has 20.

And Rhule mentioned what I was talking about in the beginning, NIL went way away from what it was intended for. If it would have stayed there, Nebraska would be a top 10 destination. It just isn’t there yet, and as Rhule said it’s being used illegally now by a ton of teams. Hell, I know 2 of our players that had people from opposing teams come up to them after the game telling them they had NIL money for them if they transferred. So am I really going to penalize us for “not being ready” or “not being a top NIL destination” if we are trying to do things as intended? No. The NCAA basically just made it legal to do all of the things that were illegal before that teams got away with. I still remember a few years ago a player from Iowa going on a recruiting visit to Alabama and just getting a bag of money sitting on his hotel bed (that’s the story anyway). NCAA making it legal and us not taking the bait doesn’t bother me. This was more to show that the way the game is being played now, Nebraska isn’t a player. It’s a moral dilemma on if you think we should or not.

So what do you do? With 1890 you’ll see us get more aggressive in the coming months to compete with some of those other schools. So you’ll see us go a bit more out of our comfort zone until the waters calm a bit. We will get better… we just weren’t ready and aren’t ready yet.

With Rhule at the helm getting diamonds in the rough like the LB from Oklahoma, we will be able to fully utilize 1890 to get some big time guys as well. Things are definitely looking up, and I expect a monster class for our 2024 guys where Rhule has a full year to develop relationships with 1890 giving the financial backing.

Sorry for the sobering reality on our NIL situation as it stands 18 months in. Tomorrow a better pick me up on how Nebraska can use the transfer portal to its benefit, and how Rhule is already doing that after yesterday.

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20 thoughts on “NIL Reality for Nebraska

  1. Well that was a dose of cold reality right after a pretty decent signing day! Thank you for laying it out there…it makes a little more sense now when I look back at how things have went recently. I just see no way they can keep this going…surely things will get out of control – the costs, the poaching of players, basically the Wild West…I would think eventually something will happen that will be a tipping point, and then some rules will be in place…I mean big money people have big money because they are smart with money…they keep putting out large sums of money, without commensurate returns (A&M this year for example) and eventually that well is going to get turned off (I would think anyways). All that being said, I like where we are going….if we had as good of a signing day yesterday with our NIL being a shambles, then it can only get better….right?!?!?!?

    1. I think Rhule even mentioned that he hopes someone gets a handle on this. But ya, we had a really good signing day to get us in the top 30. You count our transfers who basically are all four stars and it was a really good day. If you look at it though, we only brought in two four stars from high school for the signing day timeline, Princewill and Malachi, and Malachi wanted to stay in Lincoln. Again, not downplaying it, but just adding to your point that when 1890 starts really flexing its muscles we could get some top 20 classes coming our way.

    1. Opendorse is a national product that is for all athletes that even sponsors NFL players. They are signed with multiple teams, so it’s not solely for Nebraska which is a common misconception I see as well. They certainly can help us, but they are helping Texas, Oregon, Kansas State, and other schools as well.

  2. Just because Texas pays their OL a bunch of money doesn’t mean they are better than Neb. The Texas OL has sucked for years, so Casey saying Neb just as good or better is probably true.

    1. Am I reading right that you are trying to tell me that 8-4 Texas who finished 3rd in conference had a worse OL than the Nebraska one I just watched which could have been the worst i’ve seen in my lifetime?

      Texas could have zero NIL things for their OL and I would still tell you they are 10x better than what we put on the field this year at that spot.

  3. I see your points but I am not sold the NIL is super important for top 25 rankings. I think it is vital for top 5 to 10. If you look at the bottom half south caolrolina down to uw on 247s rankings I don’t see most of those teams putting together huge collectives, although I could be wrong. I would imagine that it would take two to three years for nebraska to get to top of the west which the growth alone could drive us to 20 to 25 rankings. This would give nebraska time to put together its collectives and establish an ethical way to approach this to have in 2 to 3 years to get this up and running. Time will tell, but I can see that you are right nebraska is not in the top 15 for nil monies.

    1. Actually, I think you are pretty spot on here. My point was more that we aren’t a top NIL destination now compared to the A&M, Miamia, Oregon’s of the world. I think everyone had this impression we were just this massive animal in NIL and we are far from it as of now.

      To your point, I think a top 25 class is absolutely possible without having everything streamlined yet. Heck, we might be #25 when all is said and done here and we are in a coaching transition, cancelled our main collective, then started two new ones about two months ago.

      1. And i’m fine with us having Nebraska on a pedestal or holding us in high regard. We just need to understand the reality sometimes. Us normal folk being able to help would go a long way.

  4. Do you think the NCAA (or whatever governing body replaces it if/when the P5 conferences do their own thing) will put any limitations on NIL at some point? If not, can Nebraska ever compete? Common sense would seem to indicate that people will get tired of throwing millions away on recruiting classes, but maybe not. It just blows my mind that there are schools that have donors willing to do that year after year. Isn’t there something else more useful they can do with that kind of money? I guess look down the road five or ten years and maybe things take a different turn as the fervor settles down, but it could only get worse and Nebraska isn’t going to be on that level with our collective. Relying on Rhule to find to develop players seems like a good plan, but then are we just a farm system for the big, big money programs?

    1. I was always saying that the waters will calm eventually for the exact same points you are making. I didn’t think there was any way this could keep up. But it seems worse this year, and the tampering is exponentially bad. I think with Jimbo (who was a major reason this all happened) coming out and saying how bad it is, numerous coaches saying how this isn’t good for the game, and Go5 coaches saying they have evidence/proof of their players getting tampered with, something is going to have to go down to regulate this.

      I really don’t know what some of these boosters see in the donations. There are some tax benefits if they are non-profit, but other than that really no ROI. I don’t have a great answer on this one.

      1. I wonder if this is what the ncaa was hoping for. To where the reams start to recognize this is dangerous, thereby giving the ncaa political clout to move in with structure. Or if there will be an all out call for paying all players and getting a salary cap established graded on star rankings

  5. SSO – am I hearing you correctly that these NIL collectives need to figure out how to better engage the fan base? I think it you asked Husker fans for some small change, they would gladly give it (if they knew it was needed, and felt like it would be used productively).

    If we’re relying on deep pocket donors to fund the NIL accounts we’re in trouble. And anyone claiming that “lots of corporate headquarters are in Nebraska” just doesn’t get it. No publicly traded company is going to get involved with NIL – it’s just too shady and not all that productive.

    So you’re left with whatever big boosters can do plus the average fans.

    1. Absolutely. My main thing is just ask us little guys to help out a bit. We’ve heard nothing while Kansas State and Wazzu are asking for help. We have better NIL than those two, but if we want to try and catch up with the top 20 we need all the help we can get.

      With that said, I like what Rhule is doing grabbing kids that are looking at the bigger picture and NFL dollars rather than what they can get right now from NIL. And as Rhule said, he doesn’t want a kid here because he pays him the most. We have already had a tough time with the kids that just came here for reasons other than wanting to be here the last 4-5 years.

      I just tweeted to them, see if we can get something sent out by them. 5-10 dollars here and there from thousands of fans would go a long way.

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