Florida Rashada Football

Pittsburg quarterback Jaden Rashada (5) is pressured by Liberty's Grant Buckey (72) during the second quarter of the 2022 CIF State Football Championship Division 1-A game at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., on Dec. 10, 2022. Florida has granted Rashada a release from his national letter of intent. It comes three days after he requested to be let go because the Gator Collective failed to honor a four-year name, image and likeness deal worth more than $13 million.

Jaden Rashada, a five-star high school quarterback from California, recently backed out of his commitment to the University of Florida, reportedly because a $13 million NIL deal fell through.

Mike Bianchi, the ever-feisty Orlando Sentinel columnist, can’t believe Rashada is being criticized for being “entitled.’’

“If you agree to sell your home for $13 million and the buyer doesn't deliver the cash, are you "entitled" for nixing the deal?,’’ he wrote.

I can’t believe Bianchi can’t believe that. Never mind the details - high school athletes thinking in terms of millions of dollars are going to be seen as divas.

You can see that coming, in the Name Image and Likeness Era. Other elements of the future are harder to predict. That’s never stopped us before, of course. Herewith, a few educated guesses on what’s coming.

There will be a salary cap in football and basketball. In California, the state that first adopted NIL, a lawmaker Thursday introduced a bill calling for revenue sharing between college and athletes. 

There is now broad acceptance that college athletes are effectively employee, and even broader acceptance that revenue sharing is coming, and not just in California.

Jay Paterno: “Realistically, the best thing for college athletics is for revenue sharing to come and for collectives to go away. And I say that as somebody who started one."

NIL money, filtered through athletic departments from quasi-private collectives, is already at the level where donations to the collectives will be at the expense of traditional donations to schools.

If recruiters can openly throw millions at recruits, and apparently they can, than the most football-crazed schools’ competitive advantage will only get bigger.

It’s not a long trip from where we are now to organizing the players, collective bargaining, and you get guess the rest. 

College basketball will get better. When’s the last time any college basketball player moved the needle to half the extent Maravich or Alcindor or Bird or Magic or Ewing or Laettner or a dozan others did? It’s been decades.

When’s the last time a college team stayed together long enough to even pursue greatness? Again, decades.

We all know why. Players moving from high school to the NBA with one (or less) year in college has been undeniably The Right Thing in human terms. In basketball terms, for consumers of sport, it’s just as undeniably been awful. 

March Madness remains America’s office-pool favorite, but the regular season is a footnote. The lack of a connection between the college and pro games hurts the relatability of both. 

Face it: The college game is a pale copy of what is was in the 1980s and ‘90s.

But if players can get paid, make deals, create and cultivate a brand, maybe college basketball starts to look more attractive than the G League or Eastern Europe or the end of the bench in Sacramento. 

And then college basketball gets better and, to a lesser extent, pro basketball does, too.

Players will pursue media careers, after and even during their playing careers, instead of coaching careers. In one of his Tuesday press conferences this season, James Franklin pointed out that players are just as interested in staying involved in football as ever, but less interested in being football coaches.

“That’s one of the things that’s somewhat sad,’’ he said. “The players see the hours the coaches work, … a lot more of them want to be commentators.’’

It’s never been easier to do, and with NIL, never been easier to monetize while still in college.

Fame will be disconnected from sports. I’m cheating a bit here - this has already happened.

The highest-paid female college athlete is LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne, with 6.8 million followers on TikTok and 2.8 million on Instagram. Her popularity is less because of performance, although she is an all-American, than due to the fact that, to borrow from Jerry Seinfeld, “she has many of the qualities prized by the superficial male.’’

Her fan base, which Slate has called an “unhinged throng of testosterone-addled teens,’’ is relatively indifferent to, say, technique on the uneven parallel bars, yet very, very enthusiastic about Ms. Dunne. 

They have been a rowdy and even disruptive element at LSU meets, to the point where Dunne’s team now has its own security detail.

Ugh.

 

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