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Indiana football: Tom Allen’s thoughts on NIL, the current college football landscape

The Hoosiers’ head coach shared additional thoughts on NIL and the current landscape of college football at Big Ten Media Days this week.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JUL 27 Big Ten Conference Media Days Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Coaches and programs have had time to plan and adjust now that we’re multiple years into the newer era of NIL and the transfer portal in college athletics. Of course, that doesn’t mean the environment is any less stable.

Indiana football head coach Tom Allen was asked about that (specifically if it still feels a bit “Wild West”) at Big Ten Media Days

“It’s getting even crazier by the day,” Allen said.

What has changed is attitudes and how to manage it. Indiana in particular has had some growth in both areas, Allen said, but he also stressed that the Hoosiers need to continue growing in that regard.

There’s a difference between program budgets when it comes to facilities like locker rooms, press boxes and more. Now there’s the addition of the players themselves.

Allen used the NFL as an example. Facilities throughout the league, training centers and locker rooms, have become fairly standard in comparison to what we’ve seen built around college football.

Just take a look at huge programs like LSU, USC and Georgia. Those locker rooms and faculties are absolutely state of the art in order to help attract recruits, better than what the NFL has in place (our words btw, not Allen’s).

The NFL just has to worry about paying players, Allen said. They don’t need to construct those types of facilities to lure talent, just dollars. Now college programs can use dollars to attract talent.

“That’s where it’s become really, really out of control,” Allen said.

There are multiple drafts of NIL legislation making their way through the halls of congress. Allen has seen them, but not in exact detail.

Allen, a former high school coach and teacher with a master’s degree in educational leadership, wants to prioritize education and getting players graduated from Indiana. Multiple players won’t see NFL careers, so Allen wants to emphasize getting a degree.

This doesn’t mean Allen is against players earning from their NIL, quite the opposite. He’s in support of the idea.

Beyond that even, Allen is in support of an eventual revenue-sharing model with players. Essentially, sharing portions of the team’s revenue with its athletes. Allen isn’t sure how that ‘ll end up happening but he sees it happening.

Allen has been asked about the prospects of a revenue-sharing model during recruiting visits and by younger members of his roster. He’s shared his thoughts and what he believes could happen in the future

“We’ve gotta have people that are in bigger positions than I am figure that out,” Allen said. “I know they’re trying to do that.”

A revenue sharing model could help level the playing field in the sport or by conference. Allen again cited the NFL as an example, arguing that the on-field product would worsen without the league’s salary cap in place and differing budgets between teams.

Schools can’t put any of their own funds toward NIL while players earn their value on the market. He’d like the amount of money each program or program by conference gets to distribute be consistent.

“What a young man earns from a true NIL perspective, whatever your value is is what you get,” Allen said.

One thing that’s cropped up from NIL is players being recruited to enter the transfer portal with the promise of an NIL offer once they commit and sign to their new school. Jaylin Lucas received such an offer, Allen said, and so the head coach flew to Louisiana to discuss the situation with Lucas and his family.

Allen said he hopes to do the same with other players.

“I want to be able to do that for as many guys as possible because, to me, this is a window of time to help them,” Allen said. “It’s not a generational [wealth] situation financially, but it also is something that can be a real blessing.”

But asking for NIL from donors and partners with the school comes at some cost.

Fans have long clamored for renovations or upgrades to Indiana’s facilities, namely the indoor John Mellencamp Pavilion. Allen would also like to see upgrades, but says he believes NIL should come first.

Donors only have so much money, it’s not limitless. It has to be directed.

“I want to see us do some things with getting our indoor renovated, there’s no question about that,” Allen said. “But I’m saying ‘hey invest in those scholarships and invest in nil’. That’s the message from me and that’s what I believe we should be doing.”