“We aren’t getting you here with our NIL bid, with that said, we ain’t losing a bidding war”

Before we start, yes, I purposely used a confusing quote as clickbait to get you all here and figure out what the hell i’m talking about. You’re welcome. This post is dedicated to a conversation I had over drinks about a week ago with someone that I would consider “in the know” about our current NIL situation, how it stacks up to other places, and how we are moving forward to get into a top 25 destination for NIL.

I know that last sentence is a tough pill for many to swallow, I don’t want to rehash it, but if you are genuinely curious about how we aren’t there yet, I wrote an article you can find here:

If anyone tries to tell you we are in a good spot at this very moment, just laugh at them. It’s basically impossible to shut down your only collective, start the one that we will be using moving forward roughly 3 months ago, and be going through a coaching transition where we aren’t even completely sure what everyone wants 100%. At minimum we are on different pages a bit so far. But this post is dedicated to where we are and what is on the horizon to move forward to get us in the Top 25. Let’s Go!

We probably won’t touch the top of the top programs, but do we want to?”

That statement really struck me that he stated. He acknowledged that we have work to do to move into a top25 situation, but he also was extremely confident in the next 12 months there will be no question we are a top25 program for NIL. The number he threw out was us being around 5-7 million for our football program in NIL deals for our athletes. If you believe this tweet, it makes sense why he thinks “we just won’t get there”

Ok, so we are going to be about half of what Ohio State is trying to do, it worried me a bit. Especially when I brought up A&M at 35 million for that one recruiting class:

The response was almost as if he had heard that before… “do we really want to be like them or that far at the top anyway?” We went down the deepest of rabbit holes, but one of the things he referenced was not only their record this year, but this:

What a really good counter “do we really want to be like them” was from him. In Lincoln we’ve had a hard enough time keeping kids around the program before NIL has taken on a life of its own. Do we really want to throw in another element that may make it tough for them to like playing in Lincoln or staying here? Rhule brought up a great point in his press conference about how he wants people here “based on the relationships, not because we are paying them more to be here.”

What’s basically happening at A&M right now is if a kid performs, he can just throw his name in the portal to get that same amount again. Or, if he doesn’t perform he’s going in the portal to try and get some money from somewhere else based on his stars and highlights out of high school.

These massive payments become annual, and it gets crazy. Also, if you remember back to my transfer portal article, Trev Alberts mentioned how we were dead last in the B1G for scholarship players recruited out of high school staying to their senior year here. Us just going the “pay big money for a ton of stars” NIL route wasn’t going to help us overcome that, and in my opinion that was a huge issue for us. “Get old and stay old” was a phrase the previous staff mentioned, but they could never really get that to work. If development was really the reason we lost games the previous decade, you better keep kids around more than 1-2 years. NIL can’t be a driving force for a kid that has 4 years of eligibility to come to Lincoln.

“We aren’t getting you here due to NIL, but we ain’t losing a bidding war either”

So, if you look at the high school kids we brought in, there wasn’t a ton of NIL talk or need. And the first part of the bolded statement makes sense again with what Rhule stated in his press conference. With that said, everyone reading this can rest assured that we won’t lose a bidding war if need be. And it becomes extremely paramount with what is going to happen in 2024 (more later).

I love the bolded statement… I don’t want kids here because they are getting paid to be here. I want them here because they believe in the coaching staff, their vision, and/or they love Nebraska football and Lincoln. NIL already is making me hate college football, I don’t need Nebraska getting to be the scummy school people mock for just paying people to get here. Get a kid interested, get him loving our staff and our town, ok now let’s just get him some stuff to make him feel better. This guy mentioned that NIL wasn’t even really a huge issue til’ kids got to campus as little as 2 years ago, now it’s all that is talked about for these transfers (more on this later as well).

NIL shifting more to transfers and retention, not necessarily high school players

Now, again with what i’m going to type about 2024 this may be weird, but whatever. Right now, our collective is mostly speaking with transfer players agents (you read that right, college kids agents that are still planning to play football calling about NIL dollars which is illegal). The portal is really where the bidding war happens for teams like Nebraska. We have to step up to the table for guys like the Stanford offensive tackle, for Ben Scott from Arizona State, etc. The high school kids we are getting it’s not a huge bidding war for us right now. because quite frankly besides Coleman and one or two others, it’s not necessary. But for the guys we need to bring in here for immediate needs that have film out there where they are doing well at this level and it’s not a guessing game like it is for high school kids, we are going to be able to pony up.

Also, it is going to be needed once a player does what we hope he should when he gets to Lincoln. A lot of these kids are coming here and gonna make 10-20k and then explode with an All-Conference honor or something and that’s when our collective will have to step up. Again, rest assured that in 12 months, we aren’t going to be losing those bidding wars anymore.

We don’t take commission

Speaking strictly for 1890… they do not take a commission for them to book the athlete. And that’s one of the things that is a huge selling tool to these transfers. With NIL being so new, that’s something that can get overlooked with some of these guys because other schools may not mention it. For example, for easy numbers if we are offering 100k and USCs is offering 100k, if we aren’t taking 10% commission but they are, our deal is 10k better. I know you are all smart and understand that, but it’s a big deal right now. Being backed by a family like the Peed’s give us a huge leg up there. I’m curious how long it will be that way, but for now, it at least gets people to think.

For an analogy for you… think of why Tyreek Hill ended up in Miami instead of another place. You can literally google him referencing the fact that Florida has no income tax. So for his 8 or 9 home games, he is not taxed at all on his multi-million dollar deal. It matters to these kids even though we aren’t really paying Tyreek Hill dollars.

Tax deductions

Sticking with how these things are structured, 1890 is a “for profit” organization, so donations are NOT tax deductible. However, you can try to manufacture or manipulate them into being “marketing expenses” for your company. With that said, The Big Red Collaborative is a non-profit organization, so donations to Kris Brown and that entity ARE tax deductible.

While Big Red Collaborative seems to have a better site in terms of donating and definitely some pluses for the donations, they don’t seem to be marketing as much as 1890 is doing. Further, i’m wondering when the government is going to crack down on tax deductible donations anyway. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that athletic departments sent emails out to their season ticket holders to pay for their seats in advance because in 2018 the tax break was going away for athletic department donations. Will we see that happen with NIL collectives? I would imagine so.

Nebraska is one of 26 states where high school kids can capitalize on their name, image, and likeness

There are 26 states where high school athletes can monetize their abilities from NIL. While it doesn’t seem like a huge deal, it’s something to think about. A kid like Malachi Coleman can stay for his spring at Lincoln East and still get paid. But our commits from Texas and Florida can’t make money staying in high school.

Somewhat of a “whatever” point since you are going to make more money if you come to Lincoln and are good. But something to keep in the back of your head.

So what are these deals looking like?

A lot of people are thinking about the lump sums kids are getting for signing on the dotted line, etc. But a lot of what is actually happening is 1890 is working on things such as deals where a kid from Texas can get their parents flights and hotels to games paid for so they can see their kid play. There’s so many things like that which make it difficult to even put dollar figures on who is doing what not only player to player, but team to team. And things like that are so great in my opinion. If NIL is making it easier for parents to see their kid play football, this needed to be done years ago.

Further, 1890 has companies call them up asking for “a dozen” football players and then they can reach out to the kids to try and get players there. Those are kind of the main things that are going on right now. And 1890 can take taxes out for the kids, but we are not filing for those kids. 90% of them are fine no issues, but I guarantee you there are some kids that just aren’t filing.

How does Opendorse fit in?

Opendorse started by Blake Lawrence and Adi Kunalic were basically ahead of everyone with this market. Many Nebraska fans think that we have some cheat code since this company is in Lincoln and started by former Huskers. The unfortunate thing is quite frankly Opendorse is a national company that helps multiple programs, and even helps pro athletes. So it’s not something that is an unbelievably great thing for Nebraska or that helps us more than others.

Further, this person seemed to think that many colleges are trying to squeeze Opendorse out. Opendorse basically had the massive goal to be the NIL collective for the NCAA in an effort to keep things transparent and easy. 1890 and other collectives like Kansas State’s, send some of their info to Opendorse who takes a fee to process certain things. Opendorse athletes also are marketed on their website for cameos, autographs, etc. While this person was trying to distinguish the differences between the two, they sounded eerily similar. Market the player so they can get a ton of money flowing their way.

To answer the question i’m sure you’re asking, yes, athletes can go to either place. The more options they have the better, and quite frankly 1890 is so busy they would welcome some kids going there. But as we dive down that path, that is another reason it’s so damn difficult to figure out NIL dollars. Kids are doing it with multiple places, sometimes they aren’t telling anyone but the athletic department about the thing they did on their own. Not a huge deal, it’s just another reason to take a look at things like the On3 NIL valuations and roll your eyes.

Opendorse will always be around since they go beyond college with the athletes, but places like 1890 are going to figure out a way to not give a small fee to Opendorse for things they can do themselves.

Individual branding deals

This tweet sparked a great conversation:

I brought this up, because Nebraska is getting not only paid roughly 7 million per year in cash from Adidas, but they get close to 7 million dollars in apparel that we outfit ALL of our teams with. I asked what was going to happen when Nike, Adidas, Jordan, and those places stop giving 100 plus million dollar deals to the athletic department and start just getting the biggest players on deals. Screw the womens basketball team and baseball team, we are just going to go land the 12 best players at Nebraska.

“It’s going to be a problem. You get in trouble now if you wear something other than Adidas.” I’ll be curious to see how this unfolds, and with B1G TV dollars it probably won’t matter to us all that much. But when you start thinking about every sport already being negative for profit at Nebraska besides a few, it just adds to the budget that will be needed to be accounted for.


So let’s wrap this up with some positivity. I talked to him about Raiola, the #1 player in the entire class of 2024 who has a dad that played at Nebraska, and actually was in the same recruiting class as the guy leading the fundraising for our collective. If you made me put a bet in Vegas right now, this Raiola recruitment will go the same way it did when Davison recruited Frost to Lincoln. There will be no way we lose this kid, and don’t worry the results on the field will be much different.

“This is going to be a completely different animal.” This isn’t going to be negotiating a car lease for the kid, how to pay for his family to fly here, it’s going to be a 7 figure annual situation going his way as long as he has the ‘N’ on the side of his helmet. And guess what, as soon as we get the #1 overall player in the class committed who is a QB that is the lynchpin of recruiting classes, there is going to be a ton of highly rated guys wanting to jump on the train. And that’s going to come with NIL dollars for high school kids we haven’t seen before.

We have to be calculated, and Rhule needs to lean on his philosophy of build the relationship, the finances will be secondary. Once we get this kid on board this spring, it will be an unreal recruiting class that Rhule assembles in his first full year as our head coach. Our NIL contracts will skyrocket, and all will be well in HuskerLand.

Join us Wednesday when I go over some of the new staff changes/hires

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9 thoughts on ““We aren’t getting you here with our NIL bid, with that said, we ain’t losing a bidding war”

  1. Yeah I would bet too that a ton of these kids who get big money and nothing was withheld, they aren’t filing taxes if their parents aren’t telling them to. I’d love for all of them to get audited within a year or two, learn some life lessons and see what it’s like to pay taxes with penalties and interest.

    I’ve harped many times about my NIL issues, basically that we have NFL free agency but everyone is a free agent every year with no draft or contracts to bind people. I hope that gets fixed somehow, but I’ve complained about that plenty.

    What I’m curious about to hear if any other people had thoughts or conversations about, is do you think this will somewhat die down say 5-10 years from now? Or just get worse? What I mean by that is I could see how some big donors who are paying millions every year to lock in some kids, are they going to get sick of that when they see like a situation at A&M where they forked over $3M(just throwing out a random #) to help get a kid, and then the next year he just bolts? I could see how a few times of that happening for me, and I’d get a little jaded by the process. I know some people have really deep pockets, but I wonder if we are seeing a spike/surge of initial excitement and eventually some of the $ will die down.

    Or maybe it will just get worse and some schools’ alumni will just keep paying more and more to try to get kids?

    I have no clue, just wondering about some other thoughts out there.

    1. I think it’s going to die down. We all know how big donors/boosters act in terms of ego for hiring coaches, retaining coaches, etc. The last thing some big egos want to have happen is another donor from another school outshining them. Either the waters will calm down because ROI isn’t there, or I do think NCAA or some other third party will step in to try and normalize some stuff. I don’t think you should pull the reigns back on what a kid can make off their name, but you can’t have it the wild west like it is right now.

  2. Sobering reality of where we are at and the challenges ahead. That being said, I feel good about the leadership in Lincoln and trust we will move in the right direction. I just cannot see how this kind of Wild West reality can continue for all the reasons already mentioned…taxes, tampering, actively recruiting to other places, kids getting paid BIG money and then they leave for another school the next year, etc?? Not possible to continue like that IMO……we have come a long ways from hyping beef jerky for a few bucks or getting some burritos havent we?!?!

    1. I love the beef jerky and burritos thing, but to the point I think you are making, that’s not putting us in Texas, Ohio State, Michigan, Bama territory. I love our local businesses helping.

  3. Great stuff, SSO, as usual.
    Very intrigued by your assessment of NU’s chances of landing Raiola. Would be the biggest and most important signing since…it’s hard to say. Maybe Turner Gill?
    Hard to imagine that it might happen but you’ve definitely brought some optimism.

    1. I like our chances right now to land him. Have to be honest, it would be a big upset to grab him, but for some reason I think we pull it off in the end. Lot can change between now and spring ball but we are full court pressing.

      1. The interwebs rumors seem to be saying Nebraska has a shot but Georgia is the leader, not that I know are put any credence to it.

        Would be a massive get in Rhule’s first year.

      2. Georgia would make a ton of sense. Hoping that we can figure out a way to land him. I would put us up there with Georgia right now, but I know nothing.

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