Mark Stoops Embracing The New NIL, Even Though He’s Still Learning

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Kentucky coach Mark Stoops might not have all the answers when it comes to the new Name, Image, Likeness rules in college football, but he’s still embracing it. Over the course of the last few days, we’ve seen a number of coaches complain about how it’s turned into ‘free agency’, mainly by Lane Kiffin and a select few. Though they might be speaking the truth, it doesn’t mean coaches aren’t fully embracing the new model.

Take for instance Mark Stoops, who just wrapped up his best recruiting class to date at Kentucky. He claims to not know every rule that comes with the new era in college football, but he’s not hiding from it either. A full on approach to learning how it will affect players that are potentially coming to Lexington or how the coaching staff can use it to their benefit is the only way to go. It’s not as if this is going away, because we’re just getting started.

Sure, there will most likely be a few changes made to how it’s policed or what impact the transfer portal has on NIL, which we are seeing daily. But, it’s still going to be a leading factor when landing top recruits around the country. Stoops was asked how his staff has dealt with the new NIL playing such a factor in recruiting.

“I’ve never done that before, but I promise you I’m working. I mean, it is what it is. I don’t know who talked negative or positive. I don’t really worry — in my opinion, I just go about what they tell me, what are the rules? What are they? It’s definitely a factor.

You know, you’d better embrace it and you’d better be on board and support, and that’s all we’re allowed to do is support it,” Stoops added. “So until some rules change, it’s a different world, but we’re all adapting to it the best we can.”

Another key part of NIL is how it will play into the performance of athletes. We have seen deals being made this season from one-game performances. Heck, we witnessed Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams race onto the scene and start lining up deals, after replacing Spencer Rattler in the Texas game. But, a contributing factor into how much money players can make could simply be a three-touchdown afternoon against an SEC foe.

This is the new normal, which Mark Stoops talked about last night. Teammates are going to talk with each other about the money being made from big performances and this is something new players to the program can discuss with the veterans. It’s all about cashing in on your value and there’s nowhere better to establish that then on the field.

“Well, they can ask our players, and so when you see and you feel the support for our current team, that has an effect on recruiting. So I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that or not, but I encourage to continue to help and support because I mean, that word gets out to other players, and our players have received some pretty good deals. When I have time, I need to dive into it, educate myself some more, meet with our compliance people and see exactly what’s going on because a lot of it I don’t know, but I know they can talk to a few of our players and realize real quick, if you make plays on the field, you’re going to get paid some dollars.

“It’s kind of a direct correlation,” Stoops mentioned about on-field performances being examples of making money off the field through endorsements.

So, as coaches still try to navigate around the new rules in college football, while trying to deal with ‘free agency’, most have embraced the changes.

But, if you sit around and complain about it, I promise you some other school is willing to play ball and snatch a potential recruit or player from the portal.

It’s all up to the coaches on how this is going to alter their programs over the next few years. Embrace it or continue to debate it.

Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.

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