Hail Varsity Mailbag
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Mailbag: Nebraska’s Chances of Making the End-of-Year Top-25, NIL Questions, and More

July 08, 2021

It’s time for another mailbag, so let’s dive in.

What would our record need to be at the end of the season to get into the “others receiving votes” category or even into the top 25? Is it at all possible? What chances are you giving? (@InDaWilderness)  

Mike Babcock: Eight wins, nine probably for lower top 25. I’d consider eight wins unlikely. Seven wins would be very good. Six remains my expectation. 

Brandon Vogel: Going 8-5 would virtually guarantee it. Against this schedule, 8-5 probably gets Nebraska into the top 25 at the end of the year. At 7-6, Nebraska would need some favorable context. Since 2011, just four teams have received votes in the final AP poll with that record, three of the four won bowl games to improve from 6-6 in the regular season. In 2012, TCU entered bowl season 7-5, lost its bowl game by one to Michigan State and hung onto a couple of votes. Point is, if Nebraska goes 7-5 in the regular season it would be in a good position, at 6-6 it’s unlikely but not out of the question. Off the top of my head, I’d put the Huskers’ chances of going 6-6 or better at about 60% and its chances of at least receiving votes at the end of the year somewhere close to 55% 

How could EA Sports NCAA Football incorporate NIL into its dynasty game mode in fun ways? (@Starkastic8) 

Derek Peterson: Obviously sponsorship deals for individual players would be in there. Another idea: traditionally those games have had “toughest places to play” rankings that show average attendance, records against various kinds of opponents, and things like that, and those rankings have always been completely inconsequential—just a cool little extra thing to look at—but perhaps there’s a way to make those rankings impactful on the recruiting side of things. Let’s say you’re regularly in the top-10 or 15, if they’ve built multiple broadcast packages into the game (they should), this ranking would determine how often you get the premiere commentators, which would give your program some kind of “visibility” boost, which could be a factor recruits consider. Obviously the recruiting tools in the game will be needing a complete overhaul, so there are ways to incorporate NIL stuff as you organically build out that piece of the game. I’d also love for there to be a cheat option in the new game with increasing likelihoods of getting caught and being hit with penalties based on how “big” the cheat was. For example, you could broker deals for players in pay-for-play scenarios and land a 5-star recruit at Idaho or something crazy like that. EA Sports’ FIFA game has a “financial takeover” option when starting a new career mode that essentially acts as if your club has been purchased by some Manchester City-level investor and had poured cash into your transfer budget to overhaul the team; what’s to stop EA from doing something similar when you start a new dynasty mode? You have the option at the very beginning to bring in a booster with no compunction about following rules and he’s willing to bankroll some recruiting classes. You’re more likely to get hit with penalties, but it’s an option. That’s probably too on the nose, but it would be fun.

Can recruits leverage their NIL to generate money from fans/boosters to see which school is most profitable for them? IMO, the money is out in the open now as opposed to the SEC shady deals. (@howard_parkert) 

Erin Sorensen: Do you mean whether or not recruits can ask fans/boosters what’s in it for them if they come to a school? If so, I guess they can do that. Nothing is stopping them from asking. Right now though, state associations have rules that prevent a recruit from benefitting from NIL while wearing their uniforms. However, it is a bit confusing because the NCAA has language that currently says it won’t hurt a prospective student-athlete’s NCAA eligibility if they do benefit from NIL prior to signing. That has caused some confusion and mixed messaging on what exactly is and isn’t allowed for recruits. Regardless, “pay for play” is still not allowed and I think that’s where most issues will come up and where recruits really have to be careful. Like you said, it all has to be reported and out in the open though, so we’ll know what is and isn’t going on (and what we don’t know won’t be any different than the under the table deals that have happened before). Schools will certainly use NIL to their advantage on the recruiting trail though, and that might be part of the pitch now. “Come to XYZ School and you could earn serious money in addition to playing time,” might just be the leverage some schools need in recruiting. It’s going to be interesting to watch this fall. 

MB: I’m always on the side of the student-athlete, or any student for that matter. But NIL is a Pandora’s box, requiring much smarter folks than I to resolve all the issues. 

Huskers Hoops have an open scholarship since Banton stayed in the NBA draft? (@CarnesRegg) 

Jacob Padilla: Nebraska actually had two open scholarships after Banton’s decision because Kobe Webster and Trevor Lakes don’t count towards the limit as seniors returning for an extra year. Fred Hoiberg and Co. moved pretty quickly and filled one of those scholarships with Arizona State transfer Alonzo Verge Jr. on Thursday. 

Who among the football team has the best personal/brand logo so far and why is it Damian Jackson? (@iKalebHenry) 

ES: I’d argue Cam Taylor-Britt’s juice box is pretty strong. I don’t know how many people have asked me when he’ll release his own line of juice boxes, which is funny (but people would buy them, you know it). I also think Cam Jurgens’ “Beef Jurgy” is perfect because some beef jerky company is going to sign up for that. 

Greg Smith: Beef Jurgy for Jurgens is just perfect in every way for me. The logo is great, it fits him and is really marketable. Plus, his unique skill set at his position will help him be even more popular if he puts it all together on the field.  

DP: Jackson’s is very cool, but it’s Beef Jurgy.

Which school will be the first to receive NIL violations and when, and why will it be Miami? (@Corn_Huskers) 

ES: Ha. While I understand why Miami is the focus of the question (although a booster using their business to endorse athletes is technically fine by the rules as they stand now), I think a lot of schools are going to have violations. It’s inevitable as everyone sorts through this. The reality is there isn’t much the NCAA will do right now so I think people are going to fumble through this, make some mistakes and we’ll learn as we go. 

GS: I agree with Erin that violations are inevitable. I don’t even think they will all be really malicious and intentional. Schools get slapped on the wrist for secondary violations all the time and it doesn’t make big headlines. I assume this will start happening with NIL too.  

JP: But yes, it will definitely be Miami. 

 DP: Or Clemson.

Is our recruiting class gonna pick up more commits over these next couple of months? How many are we taking this class? (@Peyton51533) 

GS: I think it is safe to say the team will add a commit or two before the season. Last I heard the total number of commits for this cycle is 14-18. Probably closer to 14.   

If beer is allowed at Memorial Stadium or PBA how many will you consume at each game and why is your answer 9? (@Spacker22) 

ES: Considering game day is a working day for me, it won’t be nine. Although, I will say that Illinois had a cooler of beer in its press box post-game for media. Like I said, it’s there only post-game and I did have one beer in 2019 after I finished my work for the night and it was a very nice perk. That was on top of the nitro cold brew on tap, so Illinois really went all out. 

MB: Since I haven’t had a beer since college, and I’m in the press box besides, it’s not an issue for me. It will be interesting to see if there is a change in dynamics on game day if beer is allowed in the stadium or arena, or both. More uncertainty. 

GS: I can count on one hand the number of beers I’ve had in the last three years so zero is my answer. I’m working during football games but I suppose I could attend basketball games as a fan. Still, zero is the answer. Put some bourbon on tap and we are talking.  

JP: I don’t drink alcohol so also mark me down for zero. 

DP: I work with some boring party people it seems. The joke answer to this is that you’d need nine to get through some of the performances those two venues have witnessed in recent years. My actual answer is that I’d probably have three or four each game if I was in the stands and not in a working press box. I think most people would have multiple without getting sloppy. As has been said before, it’s a decent revenue stream once Nebraska gets around to opening it.

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