My favorite Day One NIL story:
You don’t know Kole Taylor, and you might not even recognize his name.
But in the college football hotspot of Baton Rouge, the LSU tight end is famous—at least his shoe is.
During a game between LSU and Florida last December, Taylor’s size 14 cleat was partially responsible for the Tigers’ upset win over the sixth-ranked Gators. In the final seconds, with LSU nursing a three-point lead and in control of the ball, UF defensive back Marco Wilson was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for tossing Taylor’s shoe 20 yards down the field. It happened after LSU was stopped on third down. Instead of a punt, the Tigers were awarded a game-securing first down.
And thus, The Shoe Game was born.
“This year, if that happens, Kole would have three offers from shoe stores in Baton Rouge before the team plane lands back home,” says Hayes.
LOL. Makes you wonder what Marco Wilson could have gotten.
And from the same piece, my second favorite story:
If anyone predicted how this played out, it’s Tom McMillen, the former NBA player and U.S. Congressman from Maryland who is now the president of Lead1, which represents the athletic directors of the Football Bowl Subdivision.
In 1992, McMillen authored a book detailing the doom that may await college athletics in light of the rapid increase in coaching salaries—the driving motivation in the latest athletes’ rights movement.
“We had just passed the million dollar mark for a coach’s salary,” recalls McMillen. “My comment at the time was, if you don’t slow the arms race down, expect one on the student athletes’ side. That’s the story of the last 30 years.”
Ironically, the spark that lit college football’s big-money inferno came from the same high court that slammed the NCAA earlier this month. The 1984 Supreme Court case, NCAA v. Oklahoma Board of Regents, released television rights to conferences, resulting in the now multimillion dollar league TV contracts and escalating salaries. Fifty of the 130 FBS head coaches last year made at least $3 million, according to a USA Today database.
In a fit of irony, it was NCAA president Mark Emmert who, in a way, struck one of the first matches. As LSU’s chancellor in 2004, he made Nick Saban the highest paid coach in the country with a salary of $2.3 million.
I’m not sure if irony is an adequate expression there. There’s probably an obscure word in German that’s more up to the task.