It will soon be 2022, and with that the first full year of the NIL (name, image, likeness) era of college football. Just a couple weeks ago, we saw our very first national signing day of this brave new world that NIL has ushered in. New Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman, who will lead his guys for the very first time on New Year’s Day in the Fiesta Bowl, discussed how his regime will try and handle the NIL situation in recruiting.
“You’ve got to show them that you have a plan, but there’s certain rules within the NCAA that you can’t do,” Freeman said at a recent press conference. “We can’t say we’re providing this name, image, and likeness deal for you and things of that nature.”
This is a very popular time of the year for gambling and sites like BlackLotus Casino provide a lot of entertaining options. In terms of the odds for this Saturday showdown in the Arizona desert, the 11-1 Fighting Irish are favored -2.5 over the 11-2 Oklahoma State Cowboys. The over/under for the Fiesta Bowl is set at 45.5. ESPN matchup predictor projects the Irish have a 52% chance on emerging triumphant in the New Year’s Six bowl game.
Notre Dame is currently in a New Year’s Six bowl game drought, having not won one of these biggest of the big bowl game contests since 1994, when they beat #6 Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl Classic 24-21. They have lost the last eight since games of this sort, so they’ll be incredibly motivated to stop the slide here.
From 1994 to the 2006 football seasons, Notre Dame lost 9 consecutive bowl games, the most in NCAA history. That streak (which was later tied by Northwestern in 2011) ended with a 49–21 win over Hawai?i in the 2008 Hawai?i Bowl.
The merit and value of non-College Football Playoff bowl games is debatable, but we can all seem to agree on this- they help boost the brand. It has been speculated that Notre Dame might have gone to as many as twenty bowl games during their self-imposed forty-five year hiatus (1926-1969) from the postseason.
So there was a lot of potential brand building that was missed out upon back then, just like there were deals and money left off the table for the players, until NIL came along. The new landscape provides more rights and privileges for the players, and things have truly gotten real.
“We know it’s real, and they know we have a plan to try to help promote it, but we can’t break the rules, and we won’t break the rules, but we know it’s a part of recruiting in the future and recruiting in the present,” Freeman said.
Freeman was then asked about other schools stepping past the line, in regards to NIL, and how he and his staff are contending against that.
“We do things the Notre Dame way,” Freeman responded.
“I’ve told this staff that we’re going to do everything we” do with integrity and do it the right way, and we’re going to win by outworking people. That’s going to be our mindset in football. That’s going to be our mindset in recruiting. We’re going to outwork our opponents.
“I don’t want to do anything that has to do with breaking the rules.”
All over college football, rules will be broken left and right. Beyond all that, and in much greater capacity, those rules will be bended. It will all be very interesting to see how it all shapes and plays out in 2022.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
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