After what some perceived as a slow and tepid response to the fast-moving world of NIL, it appears that the Clemson Athletics Department and by extension, Clemson football, have finally begun to embrace Name, Image and Likeness.
In some ways, Clemson was ahead of the game, with the comprehensive support program Reign and the one-of-a-kind branding institute that is close to completion.
That said, there is a perception that the NIL opportunities Clemson athletes were offered paled in comparison to what could be secured at other top-tier football programs.
How true that is and how much it hurt Clemson with recruits is open to debate and while I think the effect may be exaggerated, it would be naïve to think it had no effect at all.
Under Graham Neff’s leadership, the athletics department took a wait-and-see attitude, looking for guidance from the NCAA.
That guidance has apparently been received, as Neff encouraged support for collectives that support Clemson athletes in a video released Monday.
The reactions on Twitter have been mostly predictable, but this move is necessary in today’s college football world, if you want to stay competitive for championships.
I wouldn’t expect NILs related to Clemson to start throwing bags of money around or recruit by using sports cars that 99.9% of the athletes will never be able to afford.
That said, Neff openly encouraged support for Collectives that support Clemson athletes, which is a huge change from the stance last summer and fall and that can only mean good news for Tiger athletics.
As the athletics department embraces NIL, Clemson football will continue to do things the right way
For me, the other key part is Neff’s pledge to do things the right way, “the Clemson way” and I believe that will resonate with a large swath of Clemson supporters, many of whom may be turned off by what they see on television and on the internet regarding NIL.
It’s a huge step in the right direction, but the impact it has on Clemson athletics is to be determined.
What I do know is I trust the type of person and human being Dabo Swinney and his staff recruit year in and year out.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be bumps in the road and Clemson will likely still miss out on players simply because of a “better offer”.
I’m OK with that as long as things are being done “the Clemson way”.