Nov. 9—Washington State football coach Jake Dickert was frank, open and honest when asked earlier this week about the NCAA's Name Image and Likeness policy and its impact on WSU athletics.
He made it clear — he fully supports players profiting from their NIL — but it also comes with challenges for programs not rolling in money.
"I think that's a great question because I think in today's world, you can no longer just say passion and spirit are going to get you by anymore," Dickert said. "It's completely real that NIL matters. The facts are at Washington State, we're way behind — not even competitive in some aspects."
These days, recruits are open about what they're getting, and Dickert said that at Oregon State — a school often lumped in with WSU — it could be 10 times what the Cougs have available. At ASU, it's 20 times more and at the top schools in the Pac-12 like Oregon, Washington and USC, "who even knows?"
Teams using money to poach players from other programs has become a real part of the college football landscape.
At Boise State, its top wide receiver Eric McAlister recently elected to enter the transfer portal in the middle of the season, and BSU coach Andy Avolos said "there's teams that are enticing people to do such things."
Dickert has hinted it happened in the past with his program as well.
"I think the tampering piece I've talked about, it's real," Dickert said. "Until we put some tougher guidelines and restrictions on it, I don't think there's much enforcement of all those types of things."
Greg Woods of the Spokesman-Review recently reported WSU's Cougar Collective NIL fund had reached $96,000 of a $100,000 goal as of Monday.
Compare that to another Power Five school like Texas A&M, which reportedly has a collective of $30 million, and it paints a staggering picture of disparity.
The transfer portal will officially open for football on Dec. 4.
"It's gonna be open-target season on our players," Dickert said. "That's what it's gonna be, and it's already started."
Dickert stressed the importance of recruiting high school players, developmental players and guys who believe in the "future and vision of what we're building here."
The Cougars (4-5, 1-5 Pac-12) have largely been successful on the football field at the Power Five level despite having fewer resources than many of their peers, but they're at risk of not making it to a bowl game for the first time since 2014. A win against Cal on Saturday would at least put them in the conversation for a bowl bid as some five-win teams are likely to receive bids.
But the NIL and fundraising conversation is one that isn't going to go away anytime soon, regardless of how the Cougs finish their season.
Several starters or key reserves have missed time in recent weeks, including cornerback Chau Smith-Wade, cornerback Javan Robinson, running back Nakia Watson, running back Dylan Paine and edge Quinn Roff. Wide receiver Lincoln Victor was also banged up in Saturday's 10-7 loss to Stanford.
Dickert said all of them practiced this week and he's "excited about probably getting a majority of those guys back" for Saturday's game against Cal.
LB Thornton named semifinalist for national walk-on award
WSU linebacker Kyle Thornton this week was named one of 10 semifinalists for the Burlsworth Trophy, which goes to the nation's top player who began his career as a walk-on.
The junior walked on at WSU in 2019 before earning a scholarship in 2021.
This season, he's earned a starting role and leads the team with 69 tackles to go along with 4.5 tackles for loss and one sack.
Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, email@example.com or on Twitter @StephanSports.