The power of college football is quickly reminded that money doesn’t necessarily win in the sport

If the benefits of the name, image and likeness are directly tied to victory, Miami could almost have a ticket to the college football playoffs. Texas A&M will be close, at least based on Nick Saban’s offseason estimates. Texas is really coming back.

But reality is reality, and on-field performance still matters. In these odd days, with the sport walking the line — and sometimes beyond it — toward pay-to-play, perhaps we’ve forgotten a key factor.

Money may buy players, but not necessarily wins.

With an $80 million coach (Mario Cristobal) and a billionaire NIL supporter (John Ruiz), Miami still turned eight times in a frustrating home loss to Duke. Texas A&M, with its multi-million dollar coach (Jimbo Fisher), dipped below 0.500 for the first time in five years. With what seems to be the best of everything, Texas is still struggling in areas where it shouldn’t be, 13 years after its last title win. The Longhorns took 14 penalties at Oklahoma on Saturday.

“When I’m out of the building, I’m going back,” Cowboys defensive coordinator Derek Mason told Oklahoma City after the game. “I don’t see Ferraris and Lamborghinis. I see Ford F-150s. I see Chevys. I see blue-collar stuff. And we’re all in the idea of ​​grit all day.”

16 months into the NIL era, football has been the main draw. To date, no one has called out Alabama quarterback Bryce Young for any unfinished business despite his $2 million valuation. The Heisman Trophy and the National Championship balance it all out.

On Saturday, fans won’t get together to debate the number of scholarship checks. Only a small percentage of players will get any significant NIL. They will both play for Good Ol’ State U. Disturbing Alert: There is still some innocence.

Those touting a new era of NIL and financial freedom may have forgotten a key part of math: the bodies, brains and talents of these 18- to 22-year-olds are still being formed. This brings an important measure of unpredictability. They decide what happens on the field.

This is another reason to sniff at the general direction of the NIL, be it as a messiah or Satan. NIL is simply part game. Players have been making money in NCAA-legal ways for years. It’s up to whoever manages the game to fix that. Again, it’s still the most important football.

Despite years of inconsequential, all-in philosophy, Miami lost 3-4 to Middle Tennessee for the third time in four years. Saturday’s eight turnovers were the most by any top five team in 13 years. Texas A&M also lost 3-4 to Appalachian State in Week 2, despite its coach’s record 10-year contract and the Joined the No. 1 recruiting class of all time this offseason. The last time the Aggies broke below 0.500 was in 2017. (Texas A&M’s woes continued on Tuesday, when three freshmen in the monster’s No. 1 recruiting class were suspended.)

Texas has one of the richest sports sectors in the nation. A NIL collective formed last year paid out $50,000 to each of its scholarship offensive linemen…seems just to be a Texas offensive lineman. What it means when the Longhorns commit 8 pre-free throws and 4 pass interference violations to hand the game over to Oklahoma State.

“From our vantage point, we’ve had a huge return on investment,” said Miami billionaire booster Ruiz, who became the face of NIL’s luxury. “We’ve been taking advantage of it from a commercial perspective.”

What about from a football perspective? Backup quarterback Jake Garcia accounted for five of the eight turnovers (three interceptions, two turnovers), which is more telling than his $145,000 two-year NIL deal with Ruiz. The cane is still trampled.

“I knew we had to rebuild a lot because, frankly, I saw a lot of players visually and they were all undersized strikers,” Ruiz added. “Just a complete overhaul. I think Mario has done a really good job of bringing in transfer kids, [but] Too many to ask. “

This won’t stop Ruiz’s NIL opportunity from expanding, which includes player promotion His LifeWallet and Cigarette Racing Team businesses.

“We still have a competitive advantage over everyone else,” he said.

Just don’t ask about football – not yet.

We are in an awkward gray area that the university space has never experienced. Players have been compensated for years. A top-five athletic executive told CBS Sports that some football players at his school earn the equivalent of $54,000 a year. When you factor in scholarship checks, off-campus housing stipends, cost of attendance, federal Pell Grants and Alston benefits, the tax deduction for these athletes is $42,000.

Not very professional, but certainly not amateur. With the addition of the NIL, the coaches are also tasked with balancing locker room imbalances (in terms of revenue) and old college attempts.

“You can find good football players who really like to play football,” TCU coach Sonny Dykes told CBS Sports. “It’s the most important thing. Sometimes when it’s just about money or just about things, sometimes it becomes more important than other things.”

Something else in Fort Worth, Texas means an undefeated top 10 finish, a top 12 spot on the Big 12 list, and a path to a college football playoff spot. Google “NIL” and “TCU” and you’ll get the usual number of hits, but this isn’t a place to use temptation to build an identity.

Dykes is the son of legendary Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, a baseball coach. He is the first coach to win 10 games at SMU since 1984. Then he travels across town looking for a better chance to win everything. Dykes brought 14 transfers to TCU and was lucky at the quarterback position.

When starter Chandler Morris went down earlier this season, backup Max Duggan led the Big 12 in touchdown passes (19). For now, Dykes now finds himself the best coach in Texas with the best program in the state.

“In a weird way, like college football is now, you see places that emphasize culture and recruit people who love football,” Dykes said of Mason’s parking lot observation. “Everyone loves a good car, but it’s more important to some people than others.”

Children have largely figured it out on their own. UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson rented a boat full of food and took his teammates on a preseason cruise in the Pacific. Former Pittsburgh QB Kenny Pickett struck a zero deal with a local restaurant that allowed him to feed his offensive line last season. Many players donate their earnings to other causes, entering the philanthropic arena.

Tennessee State Athletics benefited from NIL giant Sprye Sports Group, but QB Hendon Hooker arrived in Knoxville five months before the NIL began. He set out on a long road to stardom after being recruited by coach Josh Heupel, who brought him to Michigan for Joe Milton. Hooker is now leading the Heisman Trophy race (according to some) thanks to the work he put in. The quarterback had zero opportunities for him, including writing a Christian book for kids with his brother.but there are More free cigars11 days ago More than free cars at Niland Stadium.

Elsewhere, the humble Wake Forest team has been in the top 10 for the first time in consecutive seasons. For the first time since 1998, Tulane is at the top of the five-man program above the middle of the season.

“It’s hard to find something that hasn’t been found for so long,” said Illinois coach Brett Bielema.

The Illinois found it. Under Bielema, they’re 6-1, 17th, and have a shot at a Big Ten Western Conference title. This is a school that needs each other and a coach. Illinois has been wandering in the wilderness for some time.

After taking Wisconsin to the Rose Bowl three straight and winning the Big Ten from 2006-12, Bielema wanted to test himself. He left the success and relative comfort of Madison, Wisconsin, for Arkansas. Five years later, he was fired for the first time in his life after going 29-34 with the Razorbacks.

“What I learned in that moment is that if the power wants to make a decision, sometimes things are beyond your control,” Bielema said.

After three years in the NFL with the New England Patriots, he got another Big Ten school opportunity.

“I tell [AD Josh Whitman] In the interview, ‘I know you’re just getting to know me, but you’ve got the best me ever,'” Bieliema said.

Born in Illinois and having played and coached in Iowa and Wisconsin, Bielema would qualify as a conference commissioner if he goes to another Big Ten school. The Iowa State tattoo he played as a defensive lineman for the Hawkeyes was recently mistaken for an Illini logo by one of his players.

“We took a bit of a deft approach to that tattoo. Now, it’s about Illinois,” Birema said. “I did it when I was 19. I didn’t know I was going to be the head coach of Illinois.”

Even more impressive in these days of NIL earnings is one of the best accomplishments of a 5-7 start at Illinois last year. Three players signed from that team entered NFL training camp as free agents. All three made the 53-man roster. Zero dollars: the bare minimum.

“In my years as a coach, I don’t know if I’ve ever had that experience,” Bielema said. “Getting three games in a year. I think it’s because what we teach is trained and developed. … There are a lot of people with very little extra time who are able to take their game to a different level, If they are in the right environment.”

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