Eventual second-overall pick Aidan Hutchinson joined Marty and Wes on the Marty Smith Podcast last week ahead of the NFL Draft to discuss all things college and pro football. One of the topics the team touched upon during the interview is the current state of collegiate sports, especially NIL (name, image, likeness) deals and payments for recruits.
Wes asked the newly-drafted Detroit Lion specifically to offer his thoughts about the stark changes in the game during his tenure at Michigan.
“You come into college and the transfer portal is a figment of a lot of peoples’ imaginations,” Wes began his questions, “NIL may or not be coming down the pipes at the time, and by the time you leave, the game is totally different in such a short span of time. I know your mind is on the NFL right now, but I can’t help but wonder how much the game changed while you were at Michigan and where do you think college football is headed?”
For reference, during the previous season alone, college athletes became eligible for financial incentives beyond the scope of their scholarship. In the past, any athlete on scholarship would forfeit eligibility by accepting payments, gifts, or even legitimate side jobs if the NCAA deemed the situation improper.
Aidan Hutchinson explained on the podcast that NIL deals truly changed college football
The previous system angered many capitalists, who argued that adults should profit off of their talents, especially considering the amounts of money other stakeholders in the NCAA system (schools, coaches, officials) made off of the sports. Since the rules finally changed, some semblance of fairness certainly sprung up; but college sports have become a smaller, stranger version of pro sports due to the outright legal bribing of players by boosters and companies. Put simply, NIL legality opened the floodgates; and now the ideals of amateurism are getting swept away.
“Yeah, you know, it’s crazy right now,” Hutchinson said. “I kind of got the first taste of [the NIL era] my senior year but people didn’t really know what to do with it. Now, I feel like it’s expanding and morphing.”
Hutchinson then quipped that he now sees both younger teammates and opposing players learning how to game the system more effectively.
“I see old teammates posting NIL deals, getting their Camaros,” he laughed. “So I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And you see these schools recruiting kids, because they can technically give money away legally with NIL.”
Hutchinson then outright made the connection that many college sports purists feared when NIL deals became legal in the summer of 2021.
“It’s really a free agency, a free agency in college,” he concluded. “That’s just how it is now. It’s so much different looking back from my freshman year. It’s just a completely different vibe. I think it’s for the best, but it’s going to take some getting used to, that’s for sure.”