LSU’s Brian Kelly Thinks Some NIL Contracts Are ‘Not Healthy For Any Football Team’

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We can add LSU’s Brian Kelly to the list of coaches around college football who are not pleased with the direction NIL has taken over the last 10 months. The NCAA, which has taken a back seat up until now, is now hoping new guidelines will end some of the problems they should’ve seen from the start. According to multiple reports, these new guidelines could be released this week, detailing booster involvement in the NIL game.

Kelly, along with other coaches around the country, have shared opinions on the matter in recent weeks, bashing the NCAA in the process. This isn’t something new, as there are multiple layers to this problem for the NCAA, one being how they think any type of deal will somehow come back to bite the player, retroactively.

We’re living in a different world compared to 10 months ago, so thinking you can flip a switch and have it all go back to normal is not very smart. But, we’re dealing with the NCAA, so nothing would surprise us. They will try anything to gain back the control that’s been lost over the years.

As for the LSU football coach, Kelly has made it clear he is all for NIL during a conversation with the “Off the Bench Podcast” recently, but changes are needed.

“Certainly I am in favor of the student athletes promoting their brand and having their name, image and likeness. I don’t know if we, we’re in a situation now where it’s unintended consequences. I don’t know if anyone thought where we’d get to the point where seniors in high school are having multi-million dollar contracts. We’re looking at guys entering the transfer portal because they want to get paid to play. That’s not what name, image and likeness was intended to do.”

What he’s talking about are the local deals that were made with college athletes, from businesses that wanted a spokesperson for their product. Not the “Pay for Play” system that has shed light on a flaw in the system. But this is not the fault of the management groups that are putting these deals together, this is the fault of the NCAA for thinking their subtle list of guidelines would work the first time. They decided to leave it up to the States and now they will have a hard time not getting hit with a lawsuit if they come after a player.

Now comes the part where ongoing conversations between coaches in the league should get interesting. These conference calls between SEC coaches have been ongoing and will continue, leading up the the SEC Spring meetings later this month. For Brian Kelly, he thinks the SEC should take the lead, thinking that others will follow. It’s surely not going to be the NCAA that fixes these problems, according to Kelly, so the conversations between coaches must continue.

“We’ve had a couple of conversations already about NIL,” Brian Kelly said. “We’ve got a conference call Monday and then Memorial Day weekend we go to Destin for our conference meetings. We’re all kind of grappling with the same issues and, quite frankly, nobody’s very comfortable with where we are right now. I think the SEC has to really take a lead. The NCAA is not going to. We know that. Our conversations have really been directed at, ‘What can we do as a conference to set a standard relative to name, image and likeness?’ It’s not binding, but if the SEC doing it, I think a lot of people will follow.”

The lawyers that represent these players that the NCAA is talking about are currently waiting by the phone to hear that they can file an antitrust lawsuit. The day is coming, very soon, that lawyers will be battling it out in the courtroom over some of these NIL deals. We’re already getting closer, with the NCAA practically threatening to screw with a player’s eligibility if they don’t discuss their deal. Unless the NCAA somehow found subpoena power in the last five months, they’re about to face-off with some attorneys that have been waiting for this moment. The antitrust lawsuits will be flowing if the NCAA tries to come after a deal of a current athlete.

There are some coaches currently upset about how this will play out in a locker room. What will the atmosphere be like for a player that comes in his freshman season and is already making more than  an assistant coach or veteran players. It’s going to be awkward and I don’t know how you stop it from happening, but they’re going to have to find a way to make it work. This is the new era of college athletics and I can understand the frustrations of coaches. But, where were these coaches just a year ago when deals for high school prospects were being made under the table, damn well knowing the going rate for a five-star prospect.

But if you ask Brian Kelly, this paying players ordeal must’ve just fallen out of the sky, not realizing the amount of money spent on prospects over the last ten years. I understand that some of this is new, but Kelly is laying down the gauntlet for something that has been going on for years, they just didn’t sign a contract.

“I am not a big believer in freshman coming in, having not played a down and having a big contract. That’s not good for your locker room, that’s not good for anybody. The same holds true for transfers as well….The huge contracts we’re seeing and those types of deals, I don’t think they’re sustainable and I don’t think they’re healthy for any football team.”

Prepare for more changes over the next few months, one way or the other. We’ll get a few new guidelines from the NCAA on how to handle boosters and their involvement in NIL, but not much will change. We’re in a different space compared to where we were just ten months ago and these coaches know it.

How far are they willing to go to change any of it or not side with the players? We’re about to find out.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

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