Missouri's Eli Drinkwitz explains competitors' NIL tactics on National Signing Day

On3 imageby:Pete Nakos12/20/23

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Missouri head coach Eli Drinkwitz shared what he has gone up against in the 48 hours leading up to National Signing Day.

Speaking with Sirius XM on Wednesday, the fourth-year coach was blunt about the NIL packages his commits have been offered by competing programs in the hope of pulling off flips. In an era where college football is hurling itself toward a professionalized model, NIL serves as the stopgap between amateurism and revenue sharing. The market has matured, too, with smarter spending.

Yet, make no mistake, irregularity exists. False numbers and bad contracts are prevalent. Lucrative packages – whether real or not – remain key components of recruitment. And NIL packages are offered to cause mayhem on National Signing Day.

“Every single recruit asks about NIL,” Drinkwitz said on Wednesday. “Something that I encountered in the last 48 hours, which was completely new to me, was a lot of schools are now just calling within the last 48 hours of a kid’s signing and throwing out crazy numbers just to get them to sign with them on signing day. They’re utilizing NIL packages as the main motivation, which is exactly what we don’t want to happen. We don’t want NIL to be an inducement.”

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NCAA president Charlie Baker has lobbied Congress for more than six months for NIL legislation to set uniform standards, including a standardized contract and an agency database. The former Massachusetts governor has yet to secure such legislation, however, he released a memo earlier this month outlining a new subdivision within Division I, which would allow the highest-resourced schools the ability to compensate athletes through a trust fund and NIL agreements.

The plan would change the model of college football. But if anything, the NCAA is just at the beginning stages of trying to move in that direction. Until then, NIL remains a key cog in high school recruiting and the transfer portal.

Booster-backed NIL collectives have littered the landscape. In the top half of the Power 5, most of these organizations are operating on multimillion-dollar budgets and have brought in a swath of former agents and marketing representatives to run operations.

“Until we get some uniformed – I’m again 100% for our student-athletes earning money for the product they put on the field,” Drinkwitz said. “The 12-team playoff is a $1 billion media opportunity. These players all deserve it. They deserve to earn some piece of it. But to find some sort of uniformity to it, it’s really going to be crucial. Charlie Baker’s got his hands full trying, that’s for sure. It’s definitely becoming more and more of a hot topic in every living room you sit in and every recruit you try to recruit.”

Speaking with parents of top high school prospects in the last six weeks, it’s clear how many programs try to just enter the recruitment by offering piles of cash. The father of a committed top-100 recruit in 2024 class said schools have not slowed the recruiting process, even after his son had made a decision. More than seven programs were still in touch, while one has made an offer of more than $3 million over three years in the last several days. 

“It’s a crazy world,” the father said. 

Missouri’s 2024 recruiting class currently ranks No. 24 in the On3 Industry team recruiting rankings. The Tigers class is led by the top-ranked recruit in the nation, five-star EDGE Williams Nwaneri.

Now Drinkwitz is making sure to keep the class together on National Signing Day.