Those within the name, image, and likeness industry knew this was coming. But even they couldn’t have expected this.
A college football quarterback, dubbed a future NFL first-round pick and Heisman Trophy favorite, raises thousands of dollars in endorsements and trade deals only to be forgotten during the current season.
Three months after the NIL era, here we are. Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler, the recipient of great preseason accolades and an estimated $ 200,000 in NIL ventures, was benched by a true freshman. Forget the first round and the Heisman: Rattler seems to have lost, in all likelihood, his starting job.
What happens now?
“It still has a great name for advertising,” jokes an industry source. “I can’t take that away from him.”
Behind Rattler’s replacement, rookie Caleb Williams, the Sooners stunned Texas, 55-48, recovering huge deficits to win one of Red River Rivalry’s most memorable chapters. Oklahoma trailed 28-7 in the first quarter, 35-17 in the second quarter and 41-23 with less than three minutes left in the third quarter. Coach Lincoln Riley’s team scored 25 unanswered points in a nine-minute span starting with 1:04 left in the third, and posted a victory on a 33-yard touchdown from running back Kennedy Brooks with three seconds left.
It was crazy. It was wild. It was weird.
And for NIL purposes, it presents one of the first dilemmas for companies that invested money in the expectations and predictions of college-age children. NIL industry sources believe Rattler’s NIL efforts are in the low six figures, around $ 200,000. He created his own logo and has a website to sell his own custom merchandise.
He has a car trade deal, signed an endorsement deal with Louisiana-based chicken restaurant Raising Cane’s, and was given two vehicles by a local Oklahoma auto group after pitching for five scores against Western Carolina. The duration and terms of the contracts will determine future payments. They are not made public.
“I hope you pay your taxes on those two cars,” joked another source within the NIL industry.
As Rattler’s star fades, another rises. Williams, a native of Washington, DC, threw for 212 yards, rushed for 88 and scored three touchdowns. He’s leading the way in the NIL game, described by some as a smart social media “influencer”. In fact, he has his own YouTube channel.
“He’s already an influencer,” says one NIL executive. “Now he is about to be a player.”
But his coach, at least right now, stands in his way in search of media publicity.
Riley denied an ESPN request to interview Williams after the game, somewhat reported by side reporter Holly Rowe, who even reached out to the quarterback to break the news: You can not speak.
It’s a normal thing for top college coaches to deny real freshmen from talking to reporters. However, in the NIL era, it is a move that can be seen as a coach damaging the potential exposure of his player and his future financial ventures.
In college sports, players have more power than ever.
“So what happens if the player is interviewed despite the coach’s edict?” asks a NIL expert.
Midway through the second quarter of Saturday’s game, having rushed for a 66-yard TD in a brief first-quarter appearance, Williams trotted out onto the field to replace a guy who was projected as Heisman’s favorite before for the season to begin. The Sooners were down 35-17. They then outscored the Longhorns 31–6 to set up a wild final minutes.
Texas quarterback Casey Thompson threw a 31-yard touchdown to tie it at 48 with one minute and 20 seconds left. Williams then marched the Sooners down the field on completions of nine, 10 and 11 yards, culminating in a delivery to Brooks for the game winner.
He celebrated with his teammates and coaches for high five – the new rising star of the NIL era.
What’s wrong with Rattler? That’s the wrong question, say the experts at NIL.
“What about Caleb Williams?” one asks.
More college football coverage:
• Conclusions of the miraculous return of Oklahoma
• Casey Thompson’s long wait to be Texas quarterback
• Great moments of disrespect to the grill
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.