• Loading stock data...
Friday, February 23, 2024
Rates for the 2024 Best Venue Awards increase this Sunday at 11:59 p.m. ET

Ohio State Spending Marks Turning Point in CFB’s Emerging Free Agency 

  • A reported eight-figure NIL outlay by the Buckeyes draws notice across the country.
  • Largess arrives as the NCAA continues to struggle with the future of amateurism.
The Columbus Dispatch

A free-agency battle involving two bitter rivals is currently brewing, but it’s not in any pro sports league. Rather, it’s between the Michigan and Ohio State football programs, spotlighting how quickly and dramatically the economic landscape in college sports is changing. 

In the days following Michigan’s win in the College Football Playoff, Ohio State is reportedly spending at least $10 million and perhaps $13 million in name, image, and likeness (NIL) money to retain and add key roster pieces. The numbers are unconfirmed, but the frenzy surrounding the Buckeyes has still grown to the point where it’s captured the attention of The Wall Street Journal, Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin, and legions of fans across the country. Houston Texans quarterback and former Buckeye CJ Stroud has also become a “major donor” to the school as it ramps up for next season.

Michigan, meanwhile, is said to have made a new contract offer to Jim Harbaugh that would have made him the highest-paid coach in college football. But the big-dollar move was ultimately in vain, as the Los Angeles Chargers announced on Wednesday night that they have agreed to terms with Harbaugh to be their next head coach. Harbaugh’s deal is for five years, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

These expenditures follow the Buckeyes’ losing the last three iterations of “The Game” to the Wolverines, each time while ranked No. 2 in the country. Recent transfer commitments include Alabama recruits Julian Sayin at quarterback, safety Caleb Downs, and center Seth McLaughlin, plus Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins and Kansas State quarterback Will Howard.

“Instead of complaining, everybody’s put their money where their mouth is,” Drew Esler, vice president of The 1870 Society, an Ohio State collective, told the WSJ

Kiffin’s public notice of Ohio State’s spending, meanwhile, prompted a response from former Buckeyes star Maurice Clarett, who tweeted, “All is fair in love and war. Get on your boosters and collectives to compete. Free agency has officially started!!!”

The financial arms race arrives as the college NIL landscape remains unsettled, operating without firm guardrails to promote competitive equity and aid in financial planning—all while the NCAA continues to struggle mightily with the future of amateurism. 

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Making Sense of What More CFP Expansion Would Mean

Leaders of the CFP discussed the potential for a 14- and even 16-team Playoff.

MLB Uniform Furor: Lighter, More Flexible … and See-Through

See-through uniform pants create a social media stir, extending blowback on the new design.

‘Treated Like Children’: College Football Players Offered $600 to Be in Video Game, No Royalties

Players may be receiving lower than the industry standard with the video game’s return.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

How the Negro Leagues Are Staying in the Game


Featured Today

Sabrina-Steph Wasn’t the ‘Battle of the Sexes’—But It Was Part of the Bigger War

The competition could play a factor in increasing the WNBA’s media value.
NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace (23), in a Star Wars rebel alliance X-wing fighter pilot-inspired race suit, motions to the crowd to get louder during the driver introductions for the Cup Series Championship race at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale on Nov. 5, 2023.
February 17, 2024

Celebrity Owners, International Ambitions, and $7B Media Deals: Welcome to the New NASCAR

NASCAR boldly keeps pace with the increasingly competitive sports and entertainment world.
February 16, 2024

Wilson Introduced an Airless Basketball for $2,500. We Had Questions

The black, 3D-printed ball appeared in last year’s Slam Dunk Contest.
Emily Henegar, a baker and content creator, made a batch of NFL-inspired cookies featuring Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce.
February 11, 2024

The ‘Life-Changing’ Economy of Taylor Swift’s NFL Outfits

Appearing in Swift’s game-day wardrobe has been “life-changing” for small businesses.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Finance Manager
New York, NY
Senior Technical Artist - Sports Technology
EA Sports
Orlando, FL
Assistant Manager, Affiliate Operations
Portland, OR
Caitlin Clark

Big Ten Women’s Tournament Sells Out for First Time

‘Clarkonomics’ has made it to the postseason.
EA Sports
February 22, 2024

EA Sports Offers Players $600 To Be In New College Football Game

The deal comes with a free copy of the game but without royalties.
Nick Saban
February 22, 2024

Coaches Aren’t Happy With College Football—Some Are Getting Out While They Can

NIL and the transfer portal have many college football coaches getting new jobs.

Live Sports Are Now High-Tech Experiences

Oracle is leading the technology revolution happening in stadiums across the world.
Angel Reese
February 21, 2024

Angel Reese Denied ‘Bayou Barbie’ Trademark

No need to ‘unnecessarily instigate Mattel,’ lawyer says.
February 20, 2024

New Salary Records for Colorado Football Assistant Coaches

The 10 assistants will make a combined $4.65 million this year, a school record.
College Football Playoff
February 20, 2024

After Pac-12 Collapse, College Football Playoff Modifies Its 12-Team Qualifications

The CFP will allow five top-ranked conference champions and seven at-large bids.
Caitlin Clark
February 16, 2024

Milestone Missed: Caitlin Clark Broke a Record. NBC Blew an Opportunity

NBC skipped an opportunity to put women’s college basketball history in front of hundreds of millions of homes.