And their opinions could not be more opposing.
Sanders was vocal this week about NIL’s prospects for college football players, posting a video on Twitter expressing his displeasure with NIL’s current setup.
Tweet embedYou have a problem! I’m trying to help before it explodes in your face. Money makes you more than you really are. Now think about it for a minute. God bless you all. #cochprimeme pic.twitter.com/ZbncNK2PDt
– Coach Prime (@Dione Sanders) May 11 2022
“When you start pushing athletes like they’re pro, you make athletes act like they’re pro,” he said. Sanders in the video. “And you don’t have a staff big enough and equipped enough to handle a guy with money. Let me dig deeper. Deal with a guy who makes more money than some of the coaches on staff.”
Sanders’ opinion of NIL deals and their impact on player behavior couldn’t be more different than Heupel’s.
Heupel appeared on Busin with the boys podcast last month and suggested that the NIL deals virtually eliminate the discipline issues he would normally have to deal with as a head coach.
“One of the great things about NIL is that it forces kids to understand that they have a brand and an image and that the choices they make while transitioning to college football have a huge impact on their future and earning potential,” Hubble said.
“Issues that I might have had to deal with earlier as head coach, man, very little of that stuff is coming up now,” Heupel added. “Because they are very understanding and have a global view of what they are trying to achieve. It changes the mentality. It changes the opportunities.”
So who is right?
It’s hard to say for sure. These are two different cases. There probably aren’t as many players getting lucrative NIL deals in Jackson State as there are in Tennessee. I can see more tension in the changing room when there is only one or two players taking advantage of NIL’s rich bargain deals.
In Tennessee, I can see how almost every player on the roster is aware of how their behavior can affect their earning ability. Probably both coaches are right.
Heupel, at least, seems really happy with the players and their newfound ability to make money from their name, image, and likeness. These players have worked hard to put themselves in a position to be well paid for their skills. The fact that they finally made use of themselves – rather than just the schools/conferences taking advantage of them – is great for college football.
Featured image via Calvin Mattheis / News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK