Ohio State and Oregon are outpacing the NIL market according to Nebraska AD

There has been a lot of consternation in and around Ann Arbor about Michigan football recruiting in the light of name, image, and likeness. NIL completely changed the game and though it appeared years ago that the Wolverines would be one of the most poised to take advantage of such a new initiative, the maize and blue have fallen behind.

Under Jim Harbaugh (and continuing under Sherrone Moore), Michigan’s ethos has been ‘transformational, not transactional’ — that’s to say it’s not ‘pay-for-play.’ At other programs, recruits are essentially being induced, which is against the spirit (and technically rules) of NIL. But beyond that, with the transfer portal now being fully open and with players not needing to sit out for a year, coaches have to recruit their own roster. And sometimes, that means invoking the collectives and making sure that they match or exceed what other teams are willing to spend on the same players (which speaks to the rampant tampering that is now taking place).

Michigan’s collectives are targeting somewhere in the $10-15 million range, just to keep those star players it has. It turns out, even with those projected goals, that’s chump change compared to some other schools.

According to Football Scoop, Nebraska athletic director Troy Dannen spoke to the Cornusker collective ‘1890’ and shared that Ohio State and Oregon are spending $23 million. And for schools like those, they may or may not be adhering to the ‘transformational over transactional’ approach, particularly when it comes to the transfer portal.

We’ve got great advantages here. We don’t have debt; we have great reserves, we have a fan base, facilities, we have great advantages to addressing what lies ahead. Let’s talk about what happens in the next two years. NIL’s not coming in-house, it’s going to be replaced by something else. At Washington, our football program last year had an NIL budget of about $10 million and went to the national championship game. Oregon’s is 23; Ohio State’s is 23. Ours here is not even 10.

If that’s the case, considering it sounds as if teams like Washington and Nebraska are spending about the same as Michigan, there will be no way to keep up with those who are spending more freely.

Now, Michigan is working its way into NIL relevance by having partnered with Learfield and Altius Sports Partners as well as signing with the same agency used by Texas. However, those are only pieces to the puzzle at the moment. Considering these are tactics used by most big schools now and no one is in danger of following in SMU’s footsteps, there has to be some kind of, at least, middle ground where the Wolverines can be more competitive when it comes to landing high-profile recruits and transfers.

On the other hand, considering how the maize and blue just won the national championship built on team principles compared to a collection of ‘me-first’ individuals, there is a balance. There are certain types of players who will be more team-oriented compared to those looking simply to get theirs. But there should be some kind of happy balance, where those who perhaps are on the fence but are still good character fits won’t feel precluded from coming to Ann Arbor — because if two schools are essentially equal in terms of prestige and the football programs, if one is offering something the other is not, business is still business.

And Michigan needs to continue to find ways to be on the cutting edge of this newfound entrepreneurship.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire