Photo Credit: John Peterson

Drake’s Takes: NIL Debates and Ochaun Mathis’ Transfer

May 06, 2022

This week’s Drake’s Takes covers recent talk about name, image and likeness (NIL) rules, along with Ochaun Mathis’ transfer to Nebraska.

NIL will be just fine

Recently, just about everyone has a take on how NIL is affecting college sports, and in particular, football and men’s basketball. 

I somewhat understand the uptick. To the surprise of few, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the NCAA has no real handle on this entire situation. To lay out my opinion on the most basic level, I think there should be some changes to NIL procedures.

The major offending party in this discussion is NIL collectives. Groups of boosters have found their way around the existing rules, and are using NIL as a tool for recruiting. This was not the intent of the system from the start, but the enforcement process would be difficult for the NCAA if not near-impossible.

Pittsburgh wide receiver Jordan Addison recently entered the transfer portal, a move which has been surrounded by rumors that USC had engaged in some tampering beforehand. Miami men’s basketball guard Isiah Wong’s NIL agent claimed Wong would enter the transfer portal if his compensation wasn’t increased, although Wong has since backtracked on that. 

This kind of thing wasn’t really the intention of NIL, or really even qualifies under the literal definition of name, image and likeness. All kinds of leaders in the sport are insisting on changes, and they’re most likely coming. That maybe is for the best.

However, I’ve also found myself incredibly bored by the doomsday takes which suggest that the system as it stands would ruin college sports.

Despite my own reluctance, I’ve tried to read as much as possible on said arguments this week. I still struggle to see what the huge issue is as far as the future of college sports goes. 

Mostly everyone can agree that college athletes being able to make money is good. How that money is made and how it can bring about situations like Addison’s is where things start to get testy. 

What needs to be fixed has nothing to do with the players. I’ve seen some take issue with the amount of player movement this has caused in the transfer portal, which was a growing complaint before NIL. That’s something I just can’t make myself care about. 

If Addison wants to leave for greater financial opportunity, he should be able to do so without punishment. I’m definitely against restricting player movement any further. I’m open to the idea of having designated transfer windows, but increasing situations in which players have to sit for a year seems like pointless punishment for players. The only real gain is a small moral win for programs and fans who get hung up on player loyalty. 

The risk to players is more salient to me than the problems posed to programs or fans. The lack of regulation with NIL collectives and other shady business certainly opens up more opportunities for players to be taken advantage of and lied to. That risk is lessened if the guidelines are more clear. 

I think I’m more open about the direction of college football than many of the people I’ve seen giving takes on this. Player movement is fun. College athletes getting paid is fun. I don’t think the level of parity in each college sport isn’t really going to change much as a result of this.

This is undoubtedly a developing situation that will go on and change for years. The drastic change was necessary, and it’s on the NCAA to properly catch up. 

Ochaun Mathis

The transfer portal has been kind to Nebraska football as of late. 

Two defensive linemen from the Big 12, Ochaun Mathis and Devin Drew, chose to join the Huskers in the past week. The former has been regarded as the bigger addition, as Mathis made the All-Big 12 second team in both 2020 and 2021. Nebraska beat out Texas for his commitment. 

Nebraska was in need of some pass rushing help and defensive line depth in general, so this will help in both areas. Mathis had nine sacks in 2020 and four in 2021. Drew is comparatively less accomplished, but had 34 tackles and seven quarterback hurries this past season. There’s definitely an opening for a big impact to be made.

It’s a positive sign that the Huskers have found this level of success with the transfer portal. This team is going to look different in a lot ways when it takes the field in the fall, and the results will be interesting.

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