Lane Kiffin complained about it without being explicit to give himself cover when Tennessee football secured a commitment from Nico Iamaleava at quarterback for its 2023 class. Nick Saban is going nuclear at everybody over it. Name Image and Likeness deals are making people mad.
Now, coaches are going anonymous to take shots at the Vols over it. In Lindy’s list of anonymous quotes by coaches about other SEC schools, reported by Brad Crawford of 247Sports, another coach tried to go at UT over NIL deals while making it sound innocent.
The anonymous quote was about Josh Heupel and acknowledged Tennessee football is headed in the right direction under him. However, it ended by basically implying that the Vols are buying talent in the transfer portal. Here’s the full quote.
“I’ve been really impressed with Josh Heupel. He did a great job with (QB) Hendon Hooker. Obviously, they had some talent there. He’s doing a good job in the portal. The portal gets Tennessee back in the recruiting game. You can go out and buy these guys….”
Obviously, this opposing coach had to sneak that last part in there. What’s ridiculous about it, though, is the fact that the Vols didn’t sit there and buy a litany of transfers this offseason. In fact, most of the transfers they brought in weren’t even that high-profile.
Of the eight players Rocky Top secured in the portal, only two of them, USC Trojans transfer wide receiver Bru McCoy and Ohio State Buckeyes transfer defensive back Andre Turrentine, had a four-star or better rating on the recruiting trail. That’s hardly buying a ton of talent.
If you want to base it off what players have done since getting to college, only Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets transfer defensive back Wesley Walker has a significant Power Five playing experience. Most of these transfers are risks who were brought in to fill a need.
As a result, what’s clear about that quote is somebody just wanted to take a shot at Tennessee football cashing in on the new NIL ruling. To be fair, the Vols are benefitting more than most because of the deep pockets they have. Who cares?
Other schools have had advantages over the years. Ohio State and the LSU Tigers benefit from being the only Power Five schools in football rich states. Georgia and Alabama benefit from tons of high school talent surrounding their schools within a three-hour radius.
Taking those things into account, why can’t schools like the Vols, and yes, the Texas A&M Aggies, use their financial advantage to lure talent? Why do coaches have to continue taking shots at them over using the advantages they have, especially when it’s not like other elite schools don’t have money to lure top talent?
At this point, it’s pretty clear coaches are scared about what Tennessee football is set to become under Heupel, and they want to do everything within their power to delegitimize it. That’s pretty pathetic, in all honesty, but it doesn’t matter. UT is clearly about to take over once again.