Category Archives: It’s Just Bidness

Loan me a dime

First Maryland, now this.

The Big Ten is kinda like if the Island of Misfit Toys was a member of OPEC.

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Filed under Big Ten Football, It's Just Bidness

A cynic’s paradise

I’m having an email discussion with a reader about (what else?) where things go from here in the new super league version of college football we’re watching emerge.  He still thinks there’s a place for academic reputation in the realm of expansion, particularly in the case of the Big Ten.

I’m not seeing it, mainly because ESPN and Fox could give a rat’s ass about academics.  They’re steering the expansion train and the only thing that matters to them is attracting eyeballs.  As Jon Wilner puts it,

Geography no longer matters.

Academic reputation no longer matters.

Now, the main driver is brand value: Fox and ESPN will pay for the football programs that generate ratings and are most likely to land in prime TV windows.

That’s it.  That’s all there is now.

The math is simple.

Thompson said the Big Ten’s decision to add two Los Angeles-based universities was rooted in a simple math equation. The 14 existing conference members know they’ll receive approximately $71.4 million per university under the new Fox deal. Adding two more partners only made sense if they could generate a minimum of $143 million in additional distributable revenue.

“To get there you could assume that the bulk of the 5.2 million pay TV homes in LA, San Diego, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara become inner-market Big Ten Network subscribers,” he said. “That will add significant affiliate revenue for the network.”

Adding Southern California to the portfolio increases the Big Ten’s core TV households by 25 percent. The result is additional advertising revenue for the Big Ten Network, Fox Broadcast Network and FS1 as well.

Said Thompson: “That should all be enough to convince Fox that the additional rights fees are worthwhile.”

If you can make it worth the broadcasters’ while, you get a ticket to the big boys’ club.  And if you can’t…

… Oregon and Washington may be of interest to the Big Ten. However, Thompson estimated that those two Pac-12 universities, along with the Oregon and Washington television markets, would only generate an additional $60 million in combined additional revenues.

It’s good money, but well shy of the $143 million breakeven for the Big Ten.

It doesn’t kill the possibility of Oregon and Washington following USC and UCLA into the conference. It just means that the Big Ten members have two options if they’re going to do it: A) Be OK with about $6 million less annually to have UO and UW in the house; or B) Welcome Oregon and Washington, but inform the newcomers that they won’t get full distributions for a while.

Yeah, like Option A) is a real consideration.

Back to Wilner for the final word:

How much value do Arizona and Arizona State carry on the open market? Specifically, how attractive are they to the Big 12?

The schools certainly fit geographically, and Arizona’s basketball program would be ideal for the Big 12.

But valuation is based on the strength of your football brand, and the Wildcats are a tick above zero on that scale.

The Sun Devils would need to pack enough media value to account for Arizona, as well, if we presume they’re a package deal. (I’m not sure that’s the case, but it’s a subject for another column.)

ASU’s situation is comparable to the dilemma facing Cal and Stanford: The size of your media market matters far less than it did a decade ago.

Value is based on the ability of your football program to drive ratings and claim prime broadcast windows.

When they say it’s about the money, believe ’em.  Welcome to the new world, folks.

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Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, Fox Sports Numbs My Brain, It's Just Bidness

Today, in the more things change…

Assistant coach salary inflation is one college football tradition that will withstand the test of time.

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Happy birthday, NIL

July 1 marks the one-year anniversary of the NIL era in college sports.

Shot.

“It’s an absolute mess and a train wreck, and the kids are going to be the ones who suffer in the end,” Clemson Tigers coach Dabo Swinney told ESPN’s Chris Low in April.

Chaser.

Nijel Pack, a former Kansas State hoops star, secured All-Big 12 first-team honors last season after averaging 17.4 PPG and connecting on 44% of his 3-point attempts. He entered the transfer portal after KSU coach Bruce Weber resigned following 10 seasons at the school.

ESPN reported that Pack received an NIL package that includes $800,000 over two years and a car, via billionaire John Ruiz, following his transfer to Miami.

“I had a couple of NIL deals at Kansas State,” Pack told ESPN. “They were very small things. Didn’t require too much effort and work. It was obviously the first year of NIL, so everybody didn’t know what to do, how to do it.”

Pack is also dealing with a component of NIL that is usually a concern only for professional athletes: the public disclosure of their earnings.

“Some [deals], like mine, have been released to the public,” Pack said. “Obviously, it’s shocking how much student-athletes can benefit off this. I think [NIL is] something that should have been out there for a while. College basketball is basically a job. … And if we’re going to play and be able to do these things, I think we should be able to benefit off of it.”

But Pack also said the idea that every player with an NIL deal is going to run to the nearest car dealership is misguided. He said he plans to make wise choices with his money.

“It’s a blessing for sure,” he said. “I have parents that are really smart and invest their money. … I’m not going to be the flashiest person just because I have the money. I want to be able to use the money to make more money in the future. … I just feel like I’m only going to grow and use it to be more successful down the line. Save it, invest instead of going to spend and spend and spend.”

Damn, son, didn’t you hear what Dabo said?

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Today, in doing it for the kids

Pearls of wisdom from Coach O:

“First of all the game is changing. And if you want to have success, you better change,” Orgeron said. “Number one, you’ve got to find a way to compete at the highest level. And now it’s different, it’s a different lay of the land. But, my own personal opinion, they don’t care about it but I will say it anyway: They have to govern it. There’s got to be something, and I think the players would appreciate it.

“The players that get way too much money in the beginning may not be as hungry, and maybe not in the end get all that he needs to get. So, I think the players will learn to appreciate it, that you’ve got to earn things. I’m not against them getting money, but I think there needs to be some kind of governing.”

… Orgeron said that he’s always been in favor of graduate transfers, but expressed hesitation about the effects the transfer portal and immediate eligibility have had on the sport.

“It’s like free agency—it’s moving too fast,” Orgeron said. “For me, I was all for the graduate transfer portal. I think once you’ve graduated, hey, you’ve got a shot, go take another shot. It was good for Joe, thank God we had him for two years. But I think this transferring, hopping from school to school, especially within the conference and within your division is a little tough. You wear one uniform, the next day you’re wearing your rival’s.”

No doubt that sounds more profound in the original Orgeron-ese, but, still, it’s a beautiful encapsulation of the “fine for me, but not for thee” mindset that passes for wisdom among a certain set of college head coaches.  It’s for the best, right?  After all, the players would appreciate it.

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Filed under Coach O Needs Another Red Bull, It's Just Bidness, Transfers Are For Coaches.

“I think he’s happy with his decision.”

Jesus, what a shit show.

In the ever-evolving story of University of Miami quarterback commit Jaden Rashada, everyone seems to have their own narrative. None are lining up, however.

That’s the consensus nearly 24 hours after On3 reported Rashada left millions in potential NIL earnings on the table with his commitment to the Hurricanes, according to his lawyer Michael Caspino. The On3 Consensus four-star quarterback chose Miami over Florida and Texas A&M.

Since the news broke, multiple parties involved in the story have issued statements or walked back their comments. Jackson Zager, Rashada’s old teammate at IMG Academy, told On3 on Monday the Rashada family was “stressed out and caught off guard” by Caspino’s comments Sunday night.

Zager was serving as the family’s NIL representation in regard to endorsements. As a high school athlete in the state of California, Rashada is allowed to sign partnership agreements. Zager told On3 he flew to Miami last week to broker a deal between LifeWallet and the quarterback, but was told to “sit tight.”

At that point, he and his partner Tommy Thomsen received a cease and desist text message from Caspino regarding Rashada’s NIL recruitment. Zager told On3 that after Sunday, he and Thomsen are unsure of their standing with the family moving forward. The duo claims they represented Rashada in endorsement talks with multiple companies.

“The family told me to tell them to stop doing that,” Caspino said to On3 on Monday afternoon. “I stand by the statement he did not take the highest offer. Absolutely.”

If you caught that “old teammate at IMG Academy” and asked yourself “WTF?”, well, you’re not alone.

Zager is 19 years old and just finished his freshman year at SMU. The president and founder of JTM Sports, he holds an athlete agent license in multiple states. His partner and chief business operator at JTM, Thomsen is a 22-year-old commercial real estate agent.

If you can’t beat ’em, represent ’em.

But let’s get back to noted NIL lawyer Caspino, who’s beating a hasty retreat from his original brag story as fast as he can.

Caspino continues to claim The Gator Collective offered Rashada “a lot of money,” but a Gator Collective representative and Florida football staffer indicated to On3 the Gators never offered him a dollar. The same member of the collective told On3 that the lawyer has attempted to reach them through “multiple pathways” in the past few months. Other collectives have shared similar stories.

A Florida football staffer also indicated that Caspino reached out on multiple occasions. The lawyer refutes the story, claiming he was called by the assistant.

The staffer went on to say Caspino takes roughly 13% from each deal he strikes. Caspino reaffirmed his previous statement that he doesn’t take any money from deals, only a one to three-percent fee collectives pay for his legal work.

When asked specifically about the Miami deal, Caspino shot down any possibility of inducement or Rashada having a contract in hand before his commitment. He is also not a member of the Florida bar association.

“It’s a deal in progress, it’s a deal in process. That’s all I can say,” Caspino said. “We don’t have a deal with Miami right now. We don’t. There’s things in process. We don’t have a deal right now.”

Zager indicated to On3 that Caspino retains a “runner,” which is another term for a street agent. This is an agent who spots a talented prospect, develops a relationship with him and his family and secures him an NIL deal. Caspino acknowledged street agents are part of the NIL process in a previous interview with On3.

“I don’t even know what that is, people call me all day long,” Caspino said Monday. “I don’t do advertisements. I’ve gotten calls all day today. I’ve never heard the term ‘runner’ before.”

Uh hunh.  I’m sure a guy whose resume notes that he’s tried cases involving “wrongful death… catastrophic injury, traumatic brain injury, … etc.” would have no idea what a runner is.

Meanwhile, shots continue to be fired.

Darren Heitner and Michael Caspino have been exchanging words over email and Twitter for the better part of the last month.

The two lawyers, one based in Florida and the other in California, respectively, have developed a feud that has been the talk in many NIL circles. It was even a talking point for some at the NIL Summit. Heitner has been on the forefront of the NIL landscape, helping craft contracts and guiding collectives behind the scenes. He also helped craft the Sunshine State’s NIL legislation.

He’s also a Florida alumnus and has provided counsel to the Gator Collective.

Caspino’s comments directed towards the Gators on Sunday night was just the kicker to their ongoing argument and a clear shot at the Florida-based lawyer. Heitner told On3 on Monday night the admission from Caspino that Rashada left “millions on the table” is all the NCAA needs to investigate the lawyer.

The NCAA’s guidance on NIL clearly states boosters and donors cannot be in contact with prospective student-athletes. The organization has made it known NIL cannot be used to induce recruits. Enforcement director Jeff Duncan reminded members in a letter in June that the NCAA is “working tirelessly to develop information and investigate potential violations.”

The NCAA released updated NIL guidance in early May, stating collectives – groups of boosters and businesses – are not to be involved in the recruiting process or in the transfer portal. Collectives have pooled together funds to help bankroll teams.

“He tied the knot. He put together the present and put it on the NCAA’s doorstep,” Heitner said.

As I like to say, we’re gonna need a bigger bag of popcorn for this.

As for Mr. Reshada, if you didn’t know the old saying about lying down with dogs, start scratching now.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, Recruiting

Surrender, surrender, but don’t give yourself away.

Tired:  College football needs guardrails to keep NIL compensation in check.

Wired:  Schools should be directly involved in offering NIL inducements to college football recruits!

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First rule of NIL Club

You do not talk about NIL Club.  Unlike this guy:

Yet, Michael W. Caspino with Forward Counsel in Newport Beach, Calif., said the rumor mill isn’t accurate this time around. Caspino – who has built a reputation as the NIL lawyer representing many top football and basketball prospects – said Rashada took a “considerably lesser NIL deal” by picking the Hurricanes.

“Jaden left millions on the table,” said Caspino, who confirmed he represented Rashada in his NIL negotiations with collectives across the country. “Millions. He did not pick the highest offer. He went there because he loves Miami, the coaches, and the opportunity.”

Brilliant move, genius.

Which is why Miami’s John Ruiz immediately went into “New phone, who dis?” mode.

The second rule of NIL Club is never hire somebody who bills himself as “NIL lawyer”.

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Suppose they gave a collective and nobody came?

Hard times in Knoxville:

Basically, they’ve only raised enough money to pay the $8 million to the five-star quarterback recruit.  Hard to believe, given the history of UT athletics, that most of their fans don’t think throwing money at unproven 18-year olds is a sensible investment, but there you have it.

Those of you who’ve been slitting your wrists over the end of college football as we know it just got another data point to consider.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, It's Just Bidness, Recruiting

The NIL Summit

It was just hosted in Atlanta.  David Hale’s summary is pretty spot on.

Another common refrain from many of the NIL Summit’s attendees was a reminder that this is all still new. For all the “what comes next” questions, there were very few answers. NIL has undoubtedly moved college sports away from traditional amateurism, but it’s still unclear whether it’s also a big step toward a pro model. While some experts theorized unionization and collective bargaining was the ultimate end point, few athletes seem to have given this much thought, and several attorneys and agents said the path to unionization would be incredibly difficult, suggesting instead that a group licensing model could be a better fit.

While school presidents and administrators have begged for federal NIL oversight, few in attendance in Atlanta believed that was forthcoming after a recent effort from Greg Sankey and George Kliavkoff to engage Congress resulted in no serious movement.

More likely, said several sources, was litigation that would more clearly define a framework for the marketplace. What happens when an athlete who unwittingly signed over NIL rights to a collective wants out of that contract? What happens when a company decides an athlete hasn’t performed well enough to warrant payment? What happens when the IRS comes calling because they’re not sure why a sports collective needs nonprofit status? The results of potential lawsuits might end up defining what NIL looks like down the road.

No shit. It’s way too early in the process to start drawing any hard conclusions about where this is headed.

By the way, this is what caused Mark Emmert to spend millions on lawyers:

The one constant refrain on money, however, was that much of what has been reported in the media is widely out of step with reality. Yes, some athletes have found deals into seven figures, but that’s incredibly rare. The median return for a social media post, for example, might be as little as $20, while even big-name athletes with large followings rarely land deals in excess of $20,000.

Kinda seems wasteful, but what do I know?

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, See You In Court, The NCAA