New NIL rules have been in the pipeline for months now, but they’re now official. Players will be able to make money off of their name, and promoting themselves. That’s right, players can finally put up an ad on social media without losing the rest of their college careers.
NCAA working group recommendations recap from its comprehensive report: pic.twitter.com/t0BXVPxheW— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) April 29, 2020
This will, of course, lead to long term changes for all of college football. Now, for each program, this will have its own affect, but it will also change life in the Group of 5 as a whole.
The fear is that change will be for the worse, notably in recruiting. The fear is that the extreme visibility of Power 5 programs will lead to all the best recruits choosing to go there and not consider G5 schools. Theoretically, the gap between the P5 and G5 will widen.
Here’s why you don’t actually need to worry about that. Those players weren’t considering G5 teams anyway. G5 teams get a player like Ed Oliver once a decade at the absolute most.
Elite prospects have always wanted to play for elite brands. They’ve always wanted as much exposure, the biggest crowds, and most important games. That’s why Notre Dame has out recruited BYU. Both are independent, private schools with strong religious ties, and are in the middle of relative nowhere. Still, Notre Dame gets top 15 classes because of their national brand, while BYU recruits middling classes.
In other words, your brand is still your brand. Whether players can make some money or not off that brand, it’s always affected recruitment. New NIL rules won’t change that.
Where there could be changes going forward, is at the top of the G5. Top tier programs like UCF, Memphis, and Boise State should see a bump in recruiting. These brands are stronger than a lot of P5 brands when it comes to football. Kansas, Illinois, Wake Forest, the list goes on and on of P5 programs whose brands are worse than a top tier G5 team.
Still, these program typically out recruit top G5 programs. This is largely due to conference affiliation, and better facilities. However, if a player feels they can make better money at UCF than at Wake Forest, they may be willing to settle for the perceived limitations of a G5 program.
You’ll also see a bump for teams in both the G5 and P5 who have undeniable geographic ties. Nebraska is the only show in the state, and that will help them in regards to NIL rules. At the G5 level, a program like Hawaii should benefit from this as well.
The AAC as a whole will benefit from this, as most of its programs identify with a big city. Take SMU, for example. They can put effort into being the college brand within the Dallas city limits.
The bigger concern for the G5, and the new NIL rules, won’t be a widening gap between them and the P5. It will be a widening gap between the top of the G5 and the bottom.
Brands in the G5 that have more gravitational pull, geographic strongholds, and prior success are about to start competing closer to the level of a bottom to middle tier P5 program in recruiting. Smaller G5 brands simply won’t be able to keep up.
How will Rice recruit players, if in the city of Houston the most money can be made by playing for Houston? A school like Rice is at a disadvantage to Houston now, and with the new NIL rules that gap will widen.
In this way, the caste system of conferences will likely shift from a Power 5 and a Group of 5, to a top, middle, and lower tier of teams. It will be good for some G5 teams, and set others back. No matter what, it will require each program to adjust on the fly.