7 min read

Jimbo and Saban are nuts, but they're not wrong. Either one of them.

Jimbo and Saban are nuts, but they're not wrong. Either one of them.

Nick Saban called out Texas A&M for 'buying players' in their last recruiting class. Jimbo Fisher said that Saban thinks he's God but that God has a really shady past. Saban than went on the radio later on and tried to walk his comments back. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey then publicly reprimanded both of the children involved in the argument and we all went to bed.

That was the drama of college football yesterday and, frankly, my quick summary doesn't do it justice. It was wonderful to see some SEC on SEC violence and it is something that we should all want to see more of in the future. I mean, watch the Jimbo highlights and enjoy it. It's fun.

The back-and-forth drama of these two coaches is straight out of The Real Housewives of the Beverly Hillbillies, but the subject that they are arguing about is actually pretty important.

NIL is changing the game of college football and nobody really knows what is going to happen next. Today, Give 'Em Hell, Brigham will continue our quest to run all of college football by solving all of the issues that NIL has uncovered.

We need to build upon a foundation so here it is: NIL is good.

First and foremost, players getting paid is not inherently the problem. College football is a bajillion dollar industry and we're all for players getting to eat some of that pie. Players getting money in their pocket is not a problem.

It is also not a problem that players are getting lots of money in their pocket. If a player can land a gazillion (that's less than a bajillion, FYI) dollar endorsement deal or they can grow a mega-YouTube channel that rakes in cash, they should absolutely be able to that. The money and the amounts of money is not the problem that college football is facing. That part is just fine. As the rest of our solution to fix all of the college football problems is rolled out, this is the foundation that we are building on. NIL is good and players should be able to eat what they kill.

Problem #1: The Transfer Portal

I'm a fan of the transfer portal. In fact, I'm a fan of just about anything that gives the players some sort of power to decide what they want to do with their college lives. There are lots of layers to the transfer portal, but let's go back in time and remember a pre-transfer portal life.

If a player wanted to transfer, they had to inform their head coach. At that point, the head coach couldn't really stop them from transferring, but he could make that process absolute hell.

Remember the days of head coaches blocking which schools a player could transfer to? "You want to leave my program? Fine. But you can't go to anywhere inside the conference or to anyone who is on our schedule for the next four years." That is something that happened!

Think about what that really means. A local kid from Draper, for example, goes to the University of Utah. He decides he wants to transfer from Utah for any myriad of reasons. Utah then prohibits him from transferring to any P5 schools in California, Utah, Colorado, Washington, Oregon or Arizona. They refuse to let him transfer to BYU. And let's say that they have a schedule that includes San Diego State, Wyoming and San Jose State in the future, so the player can't go there either.

In this scenario (a make-believe scenario that we saw variations of all the time) this kid from Draper, UT was basically told, "If you want to play P5 level ball, you have to move to a different time zone away from your family. If you want to play close to home then you can't play P5 ball, you have to go to Utah State and that's pretty much it."

That isn't okay and the transfer portal changed that. That's a good thing and we're pro-transfer portal.

But the transfer portal combined with NIL has transformed into a  stage for single men to showcase their bodies and auction themselves to the highest bidder.

Jordan Addison announced that he was going to transfer from Pitt. He then sat in the portal for a few weeks while schools lined up their NIL offerings. He ended up choosing USC and the rumors are that there are six-figure deals (deals with an 's' as in plural) that have been lined up for him.

Poor, Pitt.

That isn't what the spirit of the transfer portal was all about. While the transfer portal isn't the issue, it absolutely has issues.

Solution #1: Timing and Eligibility

Does tampering happen with or without the transfer portal? (Lawyers would argue no because how can you tamper when there isn't a collective bargaining agreement in place, but I digress.) Yes. And it will forever happen. There will always be back channel communication from booster to school to parent to high school coach to player and back. Always, always, always. You can't fix tampering.

What you can fix, or at least limit, is carrot that the tamperers are enticing their targets with.

First, let's institute a transfer portal time period. We have signing period for high school recruits, but we allow players to transfer whenever they want and the only timeline they have to think about is the admissions of the school they are transferring to? Come on. We can do better than that.

The transfer portal should only be open for a finite amount of time. What is that time and how much time should it be open for? Details to be figured out at a later date. But we need some parameters.

When a player enters the transfer portal outside of the timeframe that schools can sign them, they sit in the portal and there is no access allowed by the coaches. No visits. Nada. Will there be back channel tampering? Of course. But we can't fix that.

Let's call this period the cool down period. We do it for marriages, why not college football divorces too?

Players can enter the portal and then have time to sit and reflect on what they want, why they're leaving, and all of the other things that play a role before they enter the meat market.

And here is the kicker: If the player decides they DON'T want to transfer before the meat market opens, the school still has to honor their scholarship.

Also, eligibility. No more immediate eligibility. Sorry, players, but you have to sit out a year.

No, that's not fair. No, coaches don't have to sit out. No, you shouldn't have to either. But, you're going to have to. You can have either NIL or immediate eligibility, but you can't have both.

The year that you sit out won't cost a player a year of eligibility. It's basically a 'free' year for the player. They can go to school, they can be on scholarship, but it won't count towards that players overall eligibility because they can't play.

Problem #2: Collectives

You heard Jimbo and Saban both talk about collectives. You also heard them both be VERY careful to say that they don't know anything about them because they aren't part of the school.

I actually think that's true. The head coach gets plausible deniability to protect the program. They really don't know what the collectives are doing.

But we all know. Collectives are working with the football programs (think assistant coaches, recruiting coordinators, etc.... and think back channels) to identify which players are wanted on the roster. Then, those collectives are reaching out to those players with opportunities to get paid IF that player commits to a certain school. The deals are getting obnoxious - like into the millions.

It is absolutely, positively pay-for-play. And the head coaches really don't know any of the details, but they know that the collective gets shit done for them.

Solution #2: Collectives can exist, but NIL deals have to be approved by the Universities

Look, getting paid based on your name, image and likeness does not make you an employee of the university. And if you're a player, you should want to be an employee either. Employees get fired. Employees get written up. Employees have all kinds of performance standards that they must comply with even outside of how well they perform their job. You don't want to be an employee.

So you're an amateur. That means you get all the benefits of not being an employee (a good thing!), but there are some tradeoffs. One of those tradeoffs? You can't just go nuts and sign your own contracts. The school is your proxy representative and the school is who signs off on your contracts.

This is the way that collectives can be kept in check. The school's compliance department is who decides who gets an NIL deal and who doesn't. The school's compliance department decides what is and isn't kosher with the NCAA (more on that later) and they give final approval of any deal before any dollar is ever paid.

The first thing that would do? Prohibit any deals for recruits. How? Because recruits aren't even students and, therefore, can't sign anything.

The collectives can pool together deals for players and the coaches can talk about the pool and the size thereof, but nothing is guaranteed until compliance signs off.

Problem #3: The NCAA still has no real rules

The NCAA's rules are absolute horseshit. They are vague. They are not really enforceable. And the NCAA just doesn't really seem to care.

Solution #3: Make some rules, NCAA

The NCAA needs real rules. They can rope in the government. They can rope in the College Football Playoff Committee. They can rope in conference commissioners and ADs. They can rope in the FBI for all I care.

But make some rules. Define the timeframes. Define criteria for what is and isn't allowed in an NIL deal. Define the requirements of each commercial entity writing a check and the requirements for players who are cashing those checks. Define it all and give compliance departments the criteria that they can approve those deals with.

We need some rules, NCAA. Hard stop.

(Also, conference commissioners, we're looking at you too. Push the NCAA to make some rules. You're just as culpable in the chaos as anyone else is right now.)

Does this fix everything?

No, there are still problems outside of my fixes. But, this is a start and it will address some of the biggest problems we face today. And incremental improvement is the only way out of the crazy pit that we're in right now.