[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Mind of Mike is a scary place. Here are my thoughts on NIL distractions.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]I’ve been thinking about this for a while and have mentioned it many times on podcasts, radio, and television. We are going to see more and more elite players bust out of college football than ever before. Why? NIL.
This came back to the forefront of my head when I was scrolling on Instagram and Quinn Ewers feed came into view. What I saw jolted me a bit.
I first saw a logo for something I wasn’t familiar with. I quickly learned it was the logo of the Austin Gamblers which I found out was a professional bull riding team in Texas. I had no idea pro bull riding existed or that there were teams. Then the video flipped to the back of Ewers wearing a vest with the logo as well as a black hat and black chaps. Full bull riding regalia apparently. He was promoting an upcoming event and all he said was “Gambler nation, deal me in”. The video lasted maybe 10 seconds, 15 seconds tops. But it got me thinking.
Last season Spencer Rattler was the pre-season Heisman favorite and likely No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft. He was also a millionaire by mid-summer having made a ton of money at the National Collectibles Convention in Chicago and signing with super agent Leigh Steinberg. According to my sources, he also got into an argument with Lincoln Riley during the 2021 season over an autograph signing he wanted to schedule before the Texas game.
Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei was the poster child for Dr. Pepper’s Fansville last season. Miami QB D’Eriq King had multiple NIL deals before the season started while UNC QB Sam Howell was the player who was supposed to push Rattler for No. 1 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft and also had many deals in place. And what do they all have in common? They all regressed and disappointed. Coincidence? Maybe. But such colossal failures all in the same year NIL came into play? Perhaps distraction played a role.
Ewers was just named the starter this past week by Texas coach Steve Sarkisian before the Gamblers video came out. I’m not saying a 15-second video will distract an elite talent (and elite arm) from success but let’s be clear — there is more juggling for players in college than ever before. In addition to the playbook and film study and regular college academic stressors as well as a social life players are now running businesses as well. They have help from marketing firms and agents but it’s an additional and time-consuming responsibility. And they deserve it, they have for years. But it will also come at a cost for many.
As we see more and more NIL deals we will also see less laser focus from players when it comes to team and NFL dreams. Not everyone - I get it. It’s not a blanket statement nor is it a shot at Ewers at all. But it’s reality. Rattler is now on a new team, Uiagalelei is fighting for his job against a true freshman, King is out of football, and Howell was drafted in round five and not even close to No. 2 overall. NIL? Maybe. Or maybe just an odd coincidence but I’m convinced it was the former.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]