Alabama Football: $13M NIL dollars for a roster a good deal

Ncaa Football Ohio State Spring Game
Ncaa Football Ohio State Spring Game /

Alabama Football and Nick Saban not only have to be concerned about NIL deals being used for recruits. Each season’s roster of enrolled players is at risk of being poached if the High Tide Traditions collective can’t match competing dollars from teams chasing transfers.

Assuming Ohio State’s Ryan Day is correct, $13M is the cost of keeping a roster intact. Depending on the financial resources available for NIL deals, $13M can be unreachable for some, or, in the case of an elite program like Ohio State, the amount can be a bargain.

Day was not talking about the ‘other’ kind of NIL deals being used to gain recruits. It is widely believed some of those straight cash deals have exceeded well over a million dollars for certain individual recruits. Day’s position on those deals is the same as Nick Saban’s.

Day was just talking about retaining his players. In a published story from, Day provided what he and Ohio State have learned.

"Day said the Buckeyes have been gathering information by talking to recruits and their families and getting a sense of what other schools might be discussing with NIL deals. He said he believes right now top-shelf quarterbacks require $2 million in NIL money. Major offensive tackles and edge rushers he said are about $1 million."

In commenting on the risk of other schools poaching Ohio State’s players, Day said,

"One phone call, and they’re (Ohio State players) out the door. We cannot let that happen at Ohio State. I’m not trying to sound the alarm, I’m just trying to be transparent about what we’re dealing with."

A couple of terms that apply to market economies keep being applied to predictions of the NIL future. One is ‘market rate’ and the other is ‘return on investment’ (ROI). Market rates are the price of a good or a service that is defined by supply and demand. ROI is a calculation to determine the value provided by a certain use of capital.

There is no guarantee either term is relevant to many NIL deals. Much of the motivations to expend capital in NIL deals are not tied to a standard ROI calculation. Many boosters seek a different return. They want, at the least, more wins for the team they support. In many cases, the return they seek is conference and national championships. There is no market rate for a National Championship, at least not one applied to player cost. Deep-pocket boosters are trophy hunting. Few will succeed, while the large majority will fail. Because of that ROI does not apply.

All this would change if or when schools realize making players employees is the only way to regain control of roster stability and player accountability.

What does this mean for Alabama Football?

The Alabama football roster should not cost much more for poaching protection. The number will vary but if Ryan Day’s calculation is correct, $15M-$20M should be enough for the Crimson Tide. There will be college football outliers caused by boosters without such resources, to aggressive booster groups willing to allocate much more.

Navigating these tricky waters may be a pain for Nick Saban, but as we offered in an earlier post, NIL will not take down Saban.

Next. So many are afraid of competition. dark

Yet to be understood is whether a school’s pool of booster money grows because of NIL or does it just get re-arranged? Some Alabama fans are already concerned a new basketball arena may get pushed back because there are limits to booster dollars.