The NIL landscape has created a completely different world in college football. Some welcome student-athletes finally getting the right to capitalize on their worth, but plenty of others are critical of the direction it's taking the game.
Deion Sanders considered both sides of the equation during an interview with Carl Reid of 247Sports. While the Jackson State head coach likes that players can use their names to make money beyond the sport, he said players taking NIL offers from schools will create a larger divide based on the programs' budgets.
"It's becoming free agency, real free agency, and if you don't have it, you're not going to be able to compete," Sanders said. "It's just another way to me, to keep the schools that don't have proper funding down."
He added that he wants recruits to "focus on the NFL, not the NIL."
However, the former star cornerback realizes that the player isn't at fault for receiving big-money offers. Sanders nevertheless cautioned prospects to consider non-financial factors before deciding where to play.
"He should really be looking at, where is this gonna take me? Is the quarterback there? Is the system there? Is the environment there? Am I going to be happy? Because you can be rich and very unhappy. I've been there before. So that young man has to understand the complexity of the whole package."
These are tricky questions with no clear right or wrong answers. Sanders' fears could materialize when major conferences like the SEC poach talent from smaller programs such as Jackson State with lucrative financial incentives. But as he acknowledged, the players can't be blamed for taking it.