April 25, 2022
Either you are a teenager reading this, you have kids that are teenagers or at least you can remember when you were a teenager. Ever try to keep a secret? Have you ever been told something and you knew you shouldn't tell someone else but there is a natural instinct that overtakes us and we can't hold it in. We are all natural storytellers and we all love to present our view of the situation. It's what separates us from those cute animal videos on twitter. We are the ones who are supposed to control our emotions. But we can't.
Which brings us to Nigel Pack. What's that you say? You don't know Nigel Pack. That's ok, most people have no idea who he is or at least you didn't until he made headlines this past weekend when Miami Hurricanes supporter/donor/booster/fan John Ruiz announced his company, Life Wallet, had reached a deal to pay Pack $800,000 in the next two years as Pack announced he was transferring from Kansas State to Miami. Oh, he also is getting a new car.
Welcome to what we call NIL, but really is free agency.
Pack is a 6-foot guard who averaged over 17 points a game on a losing Kansas State team. But he was considered one of the best players in the portal. Good for Pack who is doing nothing wrong by transferring or by agreeing to do whatever he will be for Life Wallet.
Ruiz is rich and he loves the Hurricanes. No one has been as visible as him in signing up UM players in all sports but especially in football to rep his company and he is not shy in telling you about it. He is always busy on twitter telling you about who is signed and what they are doing.
I will let you look up Life Wallet and what it is. You can see the many UM athletes who are part of a social media blitz behind the company and Ruiz will tell you he has committed to at least $2M so far and has up to $10M to pay athletes in this NIL world we now live in.
For all the hype surrounding Life Wallet, it has just over 2,000 followers on twitter. Ruiz also promotes his Cigarette Racing Team(speedboat racing team) using UM athletes. They have just over 1,300 followers on twitter.
The $800,000 deal for Nigel Pack got a lot of attention over the weekend because many other NIL deals do not have numbers attached to them and if they do they are just speculation. But Ruiz confirmed the deal for Pack.
I have no idea if anyone can say Ruiz will get his investment back in Pack, who could walk down South Beach and no one would recognize him. And the $400,000 a year? How does Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke feel about the deal since his agreement with Life Wallet is for $60,000? Van Dyke finished last season as one of the top quarterbacks in the country and likely known by more people than Pack, but it's Ruiz money and he can hand it out to whoever he wants.
But one of things that made me laugh all weekend was many who cover sports and fans on social media all saying the following: "What's the big deal? Now players are just getting paid above the table than below and these deals have been going on forever." No, no they have not.
Remember when I asked if you could keep a secret when you were 18 years old? If so many people think players have been getting paid tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars do you really think no one would tell you about it? If an 18-year old was getting $400,000 a year and spent a little, or a lot, on a fancy sports car, jewelry and other items that no one who covers college sports wouldn't ask questions?
Look, I do believe booster brown bags of cash have existed for decades. I think donor handshakes with a few benjamins have been around for decades. I believe the local banker who loves playing GM for his beloved school has helped a recruit's mom find a home and a job in the town her little Johnny will be playing in has been around for decades. But don't tell me players have been getting hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. That has not happened. And if it has been happening then some of the biggest, brightest and best people who cover college sports have been lousy at their jobs.
You would think breaking that story of many players on one team getting six figure deals every year might be a big one to break.
Do I think a big time quarterback being recruited by southern schools in the 70s, 80s and 90s was offered cash to commit to a school? Yes I do. But do I think anyone was making $50,000 or $100,000 a year? No, no I don't. If that was the case, they couldn't keep their mouth shut and the story would be out and everyone would know.
You really think as many people as you believe have been getting paid, that no one would spill the beans and let the secret out? C'mon, that's insane.
Again, I am all for athletes making money off their likeness. But these deals being made are pay-for-play and everyone knows that. But the danger here is where the money is coming from. We don't have a problem when a professional team pays a player. That's what business owners do. They pay their employees for work. That is not what is happening in college sports. Teams are basically outsourcing the paying thing to their donors/boosters and fans. That is dangerous because now the burden is on that group every year to give more and more to get the best players or at least be in the bidding.
I only know of, but do not personally know, John Ruiz. I know he is wealthy but how much money does Ruiz keep paying without getting a true return on investment. Maybe he can justify the money he is paying athletes by their branding of his company will pay off. Maybe, but I doubt he is getting that back. He says he is committed to spending up to $10M on NIL deals. But at some point the money faucet gets dry. That's why I don't see how this all is sustainable. Rich people stay rich by making safe and secure investments with little chance of losing their money. After pumping millions into a recruiting pot of cash, when does the rich guy say "I am not doing this every single year."
Schools and teams may not like this wild west world of NIL or paying players but they prefer someone else do the paying instead of a budget line from themselves. But you have shifted the control of your roster to someone not making the game decisions. You are now giving the power to wanna-be GMs who are giving the money to buy these players.
There are always unintended consequences and they are piling up right now in college football and basketball...
Other observations: The Celtics could sweep the Nets with a win tonight and many rooting against Brookyln love what's happened in the series. My guess is, when this series ends, Steve Nash will be fired and KD and Kyrie will have someone to blame...Ben Simmons, nah. Waste of time...Robinson Cano is 369 hits from 3,000 now that Miguel Cabrera has reached the milestone. Cano missed all of 2021 because he was suspended for using PEDs. Cano is 39 and hitting .204. Does he have 369 more hits in him? Based on his recent numbers he might need three more seasons. He is under contract for the 2023 season and that's all. The only current player, under the age of 30, with 1,400 hits is Manny Machado. He is 29 and has 1,446 hits. Veteran catcher Yadier Molina has 2,116 but he's 39 and Joey Votto, who is 38, has 2,035 hits. Not sure anyone will come close to 3,000 hits any time soon...Please stop with the Tom Brady and Sean Payton to the Dolphins stuff. Was there discussion? Sure. But the latest story that suggests the Bucs would have accepted a second round pick to free Brady to play for Miami is crazy. Why would the Bucs allow themselves to get embarrassed like that?...
Final note: Miguel Cabrera has made over $365M in his career.