4 min read

The 'Collective War' might be nearing its end

The 'Collective War' might be nearing its end

Are you #TeamRoyalBlue or #TeamCougConnect? That has been a question among BYU fans over the last several months. One collective gets significantly larger checks and influences more athletes to come to BYU and the other collective does significantly more to engage fans and provide content back to the donors keeping them afloat. Both have a purpose. Both are run by people who are trying to help BYU. Both are good.

But, like anything where there are two options, it's turned into a competition. You're either #TeamAndroid or #TeamiPhone, or #TeamPepsi or #TeamCoke, #TeamEdward or #TeamJacob, or any other number of comparisons. It's stupid, but we're humans and this is what we do.

Whether you're #TeamRoyalBlue, #TeamCougConnect, or just tired of the comparisons between the two, the first major domino to the end of the BYU Collective Was fell today. A new state law in the state of Virginia was officially passed that allows schools in Virginia to sign their own athletes to NIL deals.

What does this mean? Basically, the work that collectives are doing to facilitate NIL deals for players can now be brought into the University framework. The University of Virginia doesn't need a collective anymore, they can hire their own staff and pilfer donations off of their corporate sponsorship deals to make things happen.

The law doesn't require schools to do that, but as of July 1, they will all be allowed to do it.

This isn't a federal law and only applies to universities in the state of Virginia, but now that there is some framework and precedent set, you can expect other states to follow suit. If the individual states don't follow quickly then this could also provide the framework for a federal law that standardizes things across the entire country. This is a big and important domino.

Let's play the pretend game for a second and imagine a scenario where the state of Utah passes a law like this is the relatively near future. How do I think BYU would react? Do I think that BYU would want to bring NIL planning in-house and manage under the BYU umbrella?

Do bears shit in the woods?

BYU would love to bring the work of collectives under the BYU roof. That move would allow BYU administration to have total control over how collective deals are facilitated. They could set their own risk tolerance thresholds, their own budgets, and manage the deliverables that players have to meet and the payments for those deliverables on their own. If there is one thing that we know BYU likes to have, it's control.

It's entirely possible that BYU would simply pull in the infrastructure and volunteers from The Royal Blue and give them 'BYU employee' titles of some sort and have them report to an Associate AD. They could also hire their own people and start from scratch. How BYU would bring the collective into the university itself remains to be seen, but you can bet that BYU would look to quickly move things under their own purview.

Would that be good for the players, though?

I think so.

We have a tendency to believe that BYU doesn't really care about athletics and, therefore, doesn't run athletics as efficiently or effectively as they should. While efficiency could always improve, BYU is proving that they care a great deal about athletics.

When it was time to replace Ilaisa Tuiaki, there were a list of potential candidates who could replace him. BYU went out and hired two of them in Jay Hill and Kelly Poppinga. Financial figures weren't disclosed, but we can all safely assume that it's more than $0.

Mark Pope left and Kevin Young was hired. He received a staggering $4.2M AAV. That's unheard of for a BYU coach, and a signal to a major commitment to the future of BYU sports.

This school seems to be relinquishing their death grip on some of the pennies they have been pinching for years. They appear to be committed to winning on the biggest stage possible in as many sports as possible. That's a great thing!

Going forward, a well-funding and freely-giving NIL program is essential to athletic success. Whether we like it or not, it's what teams are required to do in order to win games on the field, court, or diamond.

BYU knows this and they have proven that they will be aggressive so long as it's within their interpretation of the bounds of the rules. The Built deal was innovative and awesome when it was new. BYU pioneered a new path with the Built deal. They would know the budget, they would know the donors, and they would know exactly where the funds are going. If NIL stuff is brought in-house, it's reasonable to believe that BYU would spend even more aggressively knowing they control each dollar.

I love what the Royal Blue Collective has done for BYU. They rarely sing their wins from the rooftops, but they are instrumental in everything that BYU does right now. Players are getting paid across all sports. Lauren Gustin didn't hit the transfer portal and come back for free last year. Aly Khalifa didn't turn Florida down last year because BYU offered $0. BYU didn't flip and beat out P5 recruits on the football field because they weren't getting any money. Royal Blue is huge for what BYU does.

I love what CougConnect has done for fans. The insider reports are one thing, but the access that CougConnect has provided for fans is unique and awesome. Player meet ups, cruises, coaching clinics, and all other engagement stuff is really cool and something that CougConnect and BYU fans alike should be proud of it.

Both of these entities are net positive for BYU. They have different styles and different roles, which results in some fans picking sides here and there, but they are both net positives for BYU.

But if Utah follows Virginia's lead and allows BYU to bring their NIL in-house, BYU itself may find a way to take the best of both worlds and do things themselves.