NIL leveled the playing field for schools like VT. All we need is a few good players (portal or recruits) to make our return to relevance and we while we don't have the same mega boosters as some schools, our fan base has strong in HHI and sheer numbers, which NIL allows us to leverage as an asset.
Whereas prior to Nil, folks like myself were on the sideline without a clear way to make an impact.
VT was built on 1-2 5 star players, a great team with of coached up players, an aggressive system defense, and special teams.
The formula worked and I still think it would work. The challenge has been getting the next Tyrod Taylor, David Wilson, Kendal Fuller, etc.
We've always gotten a few 4 stars and boatload of 3 stars but we've lost our ability to nab an elite recruit.
Maybe some would argue this on edges but we haven't grabbed a recruit like Kevin Jones, Tyrod, Kendall, in a long time.
To the point. The narrative on this has been "big time schools give you best chance of playing in league for big $$$ and now they have massive staffs for recruiting in our footprint".
I would also add that I believe to top programs also had elaborate schemes to pay players.
I don't think the coaches were involved, but boosters surely were.
I also don't believe the likes of Duke, VT, GT, etc had these schemes and if they did they were on a much smaller scale.
So there's a world where kids not only had the draw of big time X school with ties to NFL, but also $$$. Even if there was a chance they wouldn't play for a few years they have to go to one of these schools.
On the flip side you have a school like VT in a decent recruiting footprint, a waning legacy, spotty NFL showing, and no kick backs.
But a school like VT has a solid fanbase and an aging donor group that remembers 1999 still and that's ready to deploy capital.
Yeah, there's old money in the south but you're kidding yourself if you think Alabama graduates from 1999 class make more HHI then VT grads or insert another top 25 public school. Someone fact check me, but I'd be shocked.
So NIL effectively allows people like myself to give, which I did, to participate at scale. Of course even with my modest donation I'm not making up for the Alabama $50m donor, but at scale we will make a decent dent.
And my hypothesis is we don't need to match Alabama to compete. I'm not saying we will beat them, but a top 25 showing would be great.
You might argue well, they will just buy an entire team because they have so much money. I'd argue they always have been and now we are more competitive because we can also offer immediate playing time which = faster path to the NFL.
Also, buying an entire roster didn't workout so well for TAMU. Maybe it was coaching though, we'll see.
So back to the opening blueprint, we need enough for a few difference makers + a good team + good coaches.
In general, I suspect we're going to see an overall leveling of the field in college football. Where I once thought NIL was a disaster for college football, I now think college football was already beyond saving with the oligarchy of schools + ESPN and NIL might actually even things out a bit.
Maybe I'm just an optimist and don't want to admit college football is beyond saving.
Time will tell.
Beat it up and find the holes.