30 years ago, UW was beset by loans from Billy Joe Hobert. Now NIL money has transformed college football.
What a difference three decades make.
Nov. 5, 1992 – before the Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) laws and recall-backed collectives, before the transfer portal, before the college football arms race was settled with monies seven figures — Washington was 8-0, No. 1 in the nation, set for a test drive at No. 12 Arizona.
Then, without warning, calamity struck.
Billy Joe Hobert – the Huskies’ decorated junior quarterback – has been surprisingly suspended, after it was revealed that Hobert received a series of loans totaling $50,000 from an Idaho nuclear engineer (and beau- father of a friend) named Charles Rice.
Three decades later, the going rate for a five-star quarterback is currently “over $2 million a year,” according to attorney and NIL representative Michael W. Caspino. Quarterback recruiting has been trashed by dollar signs, star ratings and sponsored social media posts.
But at the time, NCAA rules stated that “a student-athlete may not receive preferential treatment, benefits or services for his or her athletic reputation or skill or potential for recovery as a future athlete. professional”.
As Tom Farrey and Eric Nalder of The Times wrote on November 5, 1992:
Hobert said he spent the $50,000 during a three-month spree on cars, guns, expensive stereo equipment, golf clubs and wild weekends during which he lavished “hundreds of dollars” to friends. Hobert acknowledged that the only way to pay off the loan now would be to turn pro next year instead of returning to Washington for his final year of eligibility. “If I go pro, obviously it will be easy to pay for,” he said. “But if I don’t, I will work a long time to repay this loan.”
The loan, although legal, effectively ended Hobert’s college career.
But that’s not all that ended.
UW has lost three of its last four games, dashing hopes of a second straight national title. The following summer, the Pac-10 imposed a two-year probation and bowl ban — among other penalties — after alleged lack of institutional control related to fundraising for campus visits and improper compensation during summer employment programs. Don James, the winningest and most beloved coach in the program’s history, resigned in protest over the penalties.
Hobert’s loans were the beginning of an abrupt and agonizing end…
And of another goal, they were only the beginning.
Three decades after $50,000 sent UW into Pac-10 purgatory, the playing field has been (perhaps forever) changed. And in the NIL era of recruiting quarterbacks, can Washington still win?
“Today I look at the whole [college football landscape] and come on, “Holy mackerel,” said UW recruiting coordinator Dick Baird in 1992. “I guess it’s open game.”
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So how and when did the game really change?
On July 1, 2021, the NCAA instituted name, likeness and likeness guidelines allowing athletes to profit via sponsored social media posts, classes/training camps, promotional appearances, merchandise , sponsorship deals and more. Some states – Washington not included – have since passed individual NIL laws as well.
When the dam broke, the money – and the collectives, the companies fueled by donors and developed expressly to foster the deals – poured in.
According to Opendorse, a leading NIL marketplace, 49.8% of all NIL payouts were flooded for college football. And the quarterbacks made disproportionate profits. The average quarterback contract is $3,264 — more than running backs ($1,976), wide receivers ($1,507), defensive linemen ($1,053), and more.
Which, as a by-product, altered the power struggle with potential schools.
“Usually quarterbacks are the first to commit – kind of like [2024 UW commit EJ Caminong] did it, much like Sam Huard did many years ago,” said Brandon Huffman, National Recruiting Editor of 247Sports. “But now quarterbacks realize they have the most zero value, and now schools have to play the long game.
“You can see it in the recruiting of these guys. They no longer always choose schools because of their physical condition. They choose schools where NIL offers are just too good to pass up. At quarterback, recruiting has been transformed to levels we’ve never seen.
In March, The Athletic reported that an unnamed five-star 2023 rookie – pictured by Caspino and widely rumored to be Tennessee quarterback Nicholaus Yamaleava – signed an NIL deal potentially worth more than $8 million. of dollars. Last summer, on3.com reported that four-star QB Jaden Rashada – a Washington target and another Caspino client – agreed to a $9.5 million deal with Miami booster John Ruiz, although Ruiz and Rashada disputed this claim. Rashada has since flipped her commitment from Miami to Florida.
Either way, Opendorse CEO Blake Lawrence told The Times last week, “When it comes to top-tier quarterbacks — five stars or All-Americans — you’re looking at high six figures, low seven digits in annual NIL pay at Power Five schools. ”
In return, Caspino said, “there are always clauses [in a recruit’s contract with a collective] that say you’re going to make X number of personal appearances and X number of social media posts. This is how it generally works.
Not for everybody.
After all, NCAA guidelines technically state that contact between recalls and potential recruits is prohibited. The NCAA also emphasized again in May “the commitment to avoid payment for gambling and inappropriate inducements related to choosing to attend a particular school”.
During a May presentation to the University of Washington’s Board of Regents, athletic director Jen Cohen noted that “people always break the rules with inducements. They pull children out of schools. And I think [the NCAA] will make an example of a few schools. I think they must. There’s a lot of pressure to do that.
“But we’re not going to be down that road. You don’t want us to be down this road. We’re about to try and find every student-athlete in Washington who wants a NIL deal, a NIL deal.
Still, due to the NCAA’s failure to enforce its guidelines — and the questionable definition of “improper inducement” — Caspino isn’t convinced the metaphorical hammer will ever fall.
“No. 1, they can’t prove why a kid went somewhere,” said Caspino, who claims to have represented more than 200 college athletes. 2, it violates antitrust laws, so I doubt they’ll ever enforce it under any circumstances.
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Which means, according to Caspino, “it’s the new normal.”
Your choices available: answer or rot.
“I think there are a few quarterbacks in our league who earn more than me, and I accept that,” joked Washington State coach Jake Dickert, who earns a 2.7 year salary. million, at a press conference last month. “But at the end of the day, it’s something we have to evolve with and do it our way.”
Last offseason, the Cougars collective extended a $90,000 deal — via $50,000 cash for promotional appearances, plus a furnished apartment and van — to secure the services of the Incarnate quarterback Ward Cameron Ward, according to radio host and columnist John Canzano. (Players are not required to publicly disclose NIL offers.)
Many top Pac-12 quarterbacks — including Michael Penix Jr. from UW, Bo Nix from Oregon, Caleb Williams from USC and Jayden from Laura from Arizona — also arrived via the transfer portal.
For collectives and programs, this may present a more proven and affordable option — given that “you don’t see the big, multimillion-dollar transactions on the portal,” Caspino said.
Recruitment in high school is not so simple. And yet, UW coach Kalen DeBoer and Co. secured commitments from a pair of three-star quarterbacks in Lincoln Kienholz (2023) and Caminong.
“We’re always going for the best quarterbacks, the ones that we think can really come here and be great,” DeBoer said last week. “I feel like we did that. We couldn’t be more excited about the quarterbacks we’ve welcomed into our program in the years to come. »
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ryan Grubb added, when asked how NIL considers his evaluation and recruiting of quarterbacks, “We talk about their actual recruiting element first. Is there a possible relationship? Would they take out the financial part first and try to see if there is something there – both in the program that we run, the school that we have, the people that are around? Is there a mutual agreement there? OK, if there is [a fit] you have to assess the level where the silver coin enters.
Plus, there’s more than one way to win. Huffman noted that “you’re going to have 10 to 12 potential generational quarterbacks on the front end [of any recruiting class], when you look at it from the perspective of high school. But then there always ends up being 30, 40 impact college quarterbacks in a class. It may not be obvious. That’s where it’s always development and calls of schemas and games that help you compensate for it.
“You look at the teams that played in the national championship last year. One was the No. 1 quarterback in the country [Alabama’s Bryce Young]and the other was a guy who walked the first time, transferred, then came back [Georgia’s Stetson Bennett]. You can win with the guy who isn’t highly touted, especially if you have a good offensive system.
The Huskies have that. Along with DeBoer, Grubb and Penix, No. 24 Washington (7-2) — who plays No. 6 Oregon (8-1) at 4 p.m. Saturday — leads the nation in passing (370.2 yards per game). The Huskies have a dedicated NIL education program (Boundless Futures), a collective committed to fostering offers for UW athletes (Montlake Futures), and exclusive access to the city of Seattle as well.
But when it comes to recruiting quarterbacks, is it enough?
“I think over time a lot of these companies and collectives and the people who are putting millions into them are going to be like, ‘What are we doing? Why are we investing this money in Texas A&M and watching it implode? Why are we investing in players who maybe don’t even play and are going to leave? “Said former UW quarterback Brock Huard, a FOX game analyst and radio host at Seattle Sports Station 710 AM. “Over time, you’re actually going to see him come back to what he would have must have been. The rainmakers [top players] deserve theirs, but to think that you can just throw silly money and it will change your fortune and your team and your record is ridiculous and absurd.
Caspino added, predicting the future of college football, “If universities with collectives that are really big on NIL are going into a tear and starting to win everywhere, then everyone will have to match that. If they lose and it falls apart, then NIL is going nowhere. So if we look at who the big players are – Tennessees, Oregons, Miamis, etc. – if these schools dominate then everyone is going to say, “We have to do it.”
“It will depend on wins and losses.”
In this case, at least, the game hasn’t changed at all.