Oregon Will Not Pay Top-NIL for QBs: Should They?

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

I was reading on another Oregon site and received some disconcerting news: Oregon is not in the top NIL bidding for the best of the 2023 quarterback recruits. The crazy number paid by Tennessee to one of the nation’s top QBs is not what the market actually demands, and it would appear that the Duck athletic brass has made a decision not to get into a bidding war with the top 4- and 5-Star quarterbacks nationally. That troubled me, and after I bought some tickets for college football this season–I got to pondering this recruiting dilemma for Our Beloved Ducks.

I will not give the names, as the top remaining quarterback recruits in the nation for 2023 are well known. It is also well known that what is being paid via NIL is a major component in their recruiting, and Oregon has decided to not be a major player in that arena? The numbers thrown around range from a million to 1.5 million per year for the best of the quarterbacks, while other sportswriters claim that two million for the QBs’ entire career at a chosen school as more of a reasonable NIL price considering the other elements that come into a decision.

It is jarring to Oregon fans, as we thought our “Phil Knight connection” would assure the Ducks bellying up to the NIL bar with a pocketful of cash to compete with the elite programs. It is rumored that Oregon has their own “salary cap” for what is spent on NIL, and thus if too much is spent on a quarterback (especially if he is a bust) the rest of the team has little in the way of NIL support. It is quite the challenge, as you must have the best at the other positions on the team to compete for a national championship.

But the quarterback is the most important position by a mile. Imagine what Oregon could have achieved in 2021 with superb quarterbacking!

Jeff Lockie did his best, but how good could you be in those uniforms?

What IS Oregon’s Strategy?

I am not being critical, because I am not informed or responsible for the budgetary constraints. I am simply trying to understand, and reflect upon it all with my many FishDuck Friends. And frankly–if this is the new quarterback recruiting landscape for the Ducks–the sooner I re-calibrate my expectations, the better. It is interesting for us to debate in our “forum-with-decorum,” and the question in the background to all of this is…

Should Oregon be bidding the millions to secure the top quarterbacks?”

It would appear that Oregon will make a modest bid and promote the other aspects of attending Oregon? That will only work (IMHO) on low 4-Star or 3-Star QBs, and thus should the Ducks recruit a ton of them and see who can play? While everyone points to how 3-Star quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Justin Herbert worked out, those don’t come along often enough to sustain a program. What usually happens is a lineup like this…

3-Star Damion Hobbs
3-Star Jeff Lockie
3-Star Terry Wilson
4-Star Travis Waller (Johnson)
4-Star Morgan Mahalak
4-Star Jake Rodrigues
4-Star Braxton Burmeister

You get the idea; throwing mud on the wall can hold your program back for years, while a great quarterback can elevate the entire team beyond usual projections. In today’s NIL environment….what would the price have been for the highest rated 5-Star quarterback ever to come to Oregon in Ty Thompson? Would he have been worth it? What damage to the rest of the team would have occurred by paying that price, or who would not be at Oregon right now?

Is Ty Thompson worth a million per year at current NIL bidding?

The more I consider this, the thornier the issue becomes, and way above my pay-grade. Yet all of us will sit in judgment of what happens without knowing all the offsetting components in an NIL offer to a prospective quarterback. The decisions being made now concerning NIL offers to QBs will impact the team immeasurably for years to come. With limited dollars to spend…what should their NIL QB strategy be?

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
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