Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss if players like Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei and Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler being affected by the pressure of big money NIL deals, and if their pedestrian play will caution companies from making big deals in the future.
DAN WETZEL: OK, so this is the name, image, and likeness era. This is the first season and a lot of these guys got a lot of deals. Now, most name, image, and likeness, I think the average it's like $900 bucks for all the different athletes out there. Some of these-- you know, DJ's in a Dr. Pepper commercial. Spencer Rattler's got like 10 deals in Oklahoma. Do you think stuff like this-- because these are college quarterbacks-- anything can change. Justin Fields had to transfer. Like, you have no guarantees a guy is going to make it or do well. Do you think this will, like, tap the brakes on some of this at some point? Like somebody sitting there with these guys, going I got a Graham Mertz billboard up. It's like--
--I mean somebody made a business deal. Now, there are boosters, we'll get to those in a sec. But, like, do you think this will end up being a little bit more overblown about all these businesses trying to get these guys when there's literally no guarantee that they're any good or they make it through the season and they aren't-- if you're really trying to get someone to like come to your restaurant or come to your car dealer, they're not sitting there going, man, I don't want to go to your place, you got that guy in your commercial.
PAT FORDE: OK, yes. All right, from what you were just talking about--
DAN WETZEL: Legit business.
PAT FORDE: Right. Legit business not just boosters saying we'll take care of guys. Yeah, there might be a little bit of caveat emptor. A little bit of buyer beware here. Because, here's the thing-- and I brought this up last week on the pod-- is you are hoping that 18, 19, 20-year-old men will handle suddenly being mini corporations without feeling the pressure of that, without, you know, losing perspective, any of that sort of thing.
I mean, you're taking a risk there. I mean, I have-- again, I've seen it with Olympic athletes who have turned pro at relatively young ages and it's been hard for some of them. I mean, it's messed with their minds and their ability to perform and it wouldn't shock me if this is somewhat similar.
So, if I'm sitting there with a business, yeah, I may want to get to endorse a star senior who's proved he can do something-- or junior, really, because if he's a star senior then he's not going to be there. He'll be in the NFL. But this is a risk industry, basically. You are hoping you're guessing right on who's going to be good, but there's a chance you may not be and there's a chance, then, that the people you do guess on may not handle it very well.
PETE THAMEL: So I think this is an interesting season for this to debut because it's just a weird year in a lot of ways, right? They have all this returning production, we have all these seniors there really weren't a lot of established returning stars in college football this year. Like, did Dr. Pepper fail giving DJ a spot in that commercial and paying him whatever they did? When people talked about Dr. Pepper and talked about the commercial, the commercial was an ad for itself.
So because DJ has played poorly does that mean Dr. Pepper made a bad investment? I don't think so. I mean, how many times have we talked about DJ Uiagalelei and Dr. Pepper on this podcast? Which we would have not talked about Doctor Pepper ever before other than they had those awful commercials for years.
So, I think, like, there is a little bit of people over-invested in the novelty and got a bump off the novelty, but I think the notion of like, brands are going to shy away and athletes-- I mean, like people are going to adapt and evolve but I'm not going to overreact to this and I'm certainly not going to blame Spencer Rattler making money off commercials for his pedestrian performance so far this year. I think that's lunacy. Pure lunacy.
I think the variable in which this stuff exists and has impacted the field this year is small. I would say it's minuscule. Would you guys agree with that?
DAN WETZEL: I don't know.
PAT FORDE: Eh.
DAN WETZEL: Oh, go ahead, Pat.
PAT FORDE: No. Well, no. I mean, I don't know. I don't know. I mean, I saw DJ Uiagalelei look great last year and he looks really bad this year. What's happened now? I don't know. They don't have Travis Etienne. We did have a relatively small sample size with him with the two games last year, but those two games he started he was really good. And he can't get out of his own way this year.
So I don't know what's changed between last year and this year. Well, Dr. Pepper's changed and lack of Travis Etienne. I don't know whether there's anything else involved there or not, but I don't think you can look at this and say just out of hand say, no, the commercialization of college athletes has nothing to do with how they're performing.