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Matt Schaub weighs in on NIL, transfer portal, future of college football

college football NIL
(© Sergey Nivens –

The Wild West that college athletics is becoming is not sustainable, thinks Matt Schaub, former record-setting UVA quarterback, retired NFL veteran, new NIL advisory board member.

NIL is “going to hurt college football over the long run, because I think you’re just setting it up to be like NFL free agency a little bit, especially when you couple it with the transfer portal. Because guys can transfer and play right away, and then you have all this money out there,” Schaub said in an interview with the “Jerry Ratcliffe Show” this week.

“I just don’t see it being sustained without some sort of regulations out there, some sort of oversight, to where it can be monitored by some governing body, whether it’s the NCAA or the conferences,” said Schaub, a 2003 UVA alum who played for four teams in his 17-year NFL career, and was the 2009 Pro Bowl MVP. “Somehow, some way, there’s got to be some guardrails to what’s allowed, and what else you’re going to see. You’re going to see still the same disparity of the talent, and some of these schools just getting players because they have the biggest NIL package. I think it could go really south real quick.”

Schaub, who retired from the NFL after the 2020 season, is a new member of the advisory board of Cavalier Futures, which bills itself as providing “education, readiness, and networking in order to maximize student-athletes’ potential through NIL, professional readiness and long-term career placement.”

The advisory board for Cavalier Futures, which is run by Lo Davis, a former associate director of the Virginia Athletics Foundation, also includes all-time UVA basketball great Ralph Sampson, University of Virginia law professor Brian Socolaw and recent UVA hoops alum Kyle Guy.

The new role has forced Schaub to do a deep dive into NIL and its impact on college athletics.

“This is a way I feel that we can really empower and benefit the student-athletes at University of Virginia to realize their value and bring that to the forefront, and do it the right way, and have some sort of way for the student-athletes to not just make some money to put in their pocket, but give them the skills for when they get out of the university and get into the real world and can make them some connections out there in whatever environment they want to work in or find themselves,” Schaub said.

The ink was barely dry last summer before NIL had already started having an impact on college athletics, with word getting out that the projected starting QB at Alabama, Bryce Young, was in line to make as much as a million dollars for the 2021 season from NIL opportunities.

Other top college and even prep athletes have been cashing in since, and it’s been rumored that potential NIL deals had a major impact on the 2022 football recruiting cycle.

“It’s very bizarre to me to see that that’s how quickly that it got there,” Schaub said. “Now, it’s obvious that some of these schools, there’s that much money involved in the programs out there to support and keep and recruit some of the players there, but it’s just so hard to fathom that there’s not some level of corruption, or that there aren’t going to be some sort of things happen that are unethical or something like that, because it all just came out of nowhere, and there’s really no oversight to the whole process.

“Going back to the transfer portal that’s been in place now for a few years, that’s, I think, your start,” Schaub said. “You start kids out at such a young age to not honor a commitment and to not honor signing on the dotted line, and I get it if a coach leaves, right, if the coach who signed up to go play for retires or gets a job and you want to transfer, that’s one thing. But just to say, I didn’t win the job, or I’m not the starter, I’m going to go transfer over here, I just think that’s teaching some of these young people the wrong way to go about ultimately being an adult and handling and backing up their decisions and handling adversity.

“If your adversity is, hey, you didn’t win the job, work harder, prepare. Not every instance is like that, but I think you’re just allowing for the, we’re not getting out of this place what I want, I’m going to go over here, and then I’m going to go over that to this universe. I think that’s just setting some of these kids up behind the eight-ball to start.”

Schaub played college football a generation ago. He says today that he never thought about transferring out when things didn’t start for him at UVA the way he had hoped when he signed.

“I never did. I never had that thought. I just trusted the process and my ability,” Schaub said. “I redshirted, and there was this older guy in place my redshirt freshman year, and then it was me and another guy that battled it out our redshirt sophomore years. And then he ended up transferring. And my fourth year started out shaky, and I got benched in that first game. And then the other guy started the second game, and I came off the bench and the second half of our second game and never looked back. I never had that thought, to transfer or anything like that. I just was going to work harder and be prepared for that next opportunity and not look back.”

That fourth year, Schaub, after being benched to start the season, ended up being named ACC Player of the Year, and he went on to have his name called in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft, so things worked out for him.

He’s hoping, like a lot of us are, that things work out for the current QB1 at Virginia, Brennan Armstrong, who passed for a school-record 4,449 yards in 2021, and is back for a redshirt senior season in 2022.

Schaub talked with Armstrong over the winter as BA weighed whether to put his name into the NFL Draft or to return for one more year of college.

“He was trying to figure out where his future was going to lie, and I listened,” Schaub said. “I never told him what he should do. I gave him advice on what I what I’ve seen out there and gave him some advice of, hey, here’s what you can look at, here’s some thoughts whether it’s, who’s coming out in the draft this year, who’s coming out in the draft next year, there’s services that can project where you might be drafted, and you can go and utilize those services to see if that’s something you want to entertain and make that decision, or if you come back, what a lot of NFL staffs and coaches want to see is, can you do it again and not be just a one-year wonder, so to speak.

“And also look at the stable of receivers. He’s got a good group to throw the football to, so if you have that in place and a good offensive line in front of you go and do it again, that’ll solidify who you are as a as a football player even more so. And also, you don’t get these years back, so enjoy college, enjoy the guys who are around, because it’s different, and you don’t want to think it is, but once you get to the NFL, the locker room, the dynamics, it’s all it’s very different. So, enjoy these years and enjoy this time that you have to play college football, and the NFL game, it’ll be waiting for you next spring,” Schaub said.

Story by Chris Graham

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