How Much NIL Can Gophers Pay vs What Transfer QBs Actually Cost?

PJ Fleck, Minnesota Gophers football
Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ok Minnesota Gophers fans, we have some things we need to talk about. First, many of you need to embrace NCAA transfer portal season. Yes, PJ Fleck has had some players enter the portal, but that no longer means the sky is falling.

In fact, and this could change at any moment, but the Gophers have only lost one starter to the portal so far. That is way below average. We still do not know the circumstances surrounding why starting QB Athan Kaliakmanis is entering the portal, but it’s not uncommon, given what we are seeing across the country.

Related: Minnesota Gophers Football Transfer Portal Tracker 2023

But Fleck and his staff made it clear they were serious about bringing in, if nothing else, competition for QB1. Less than 24 hours later, Athan announced his plans to transfer. The QB they offered, top FCS arm Max Brosmer, has shown he belongs in the FBS.

Why aren’t the Minnesota Gophers in on all the power-5 quarterbacks in the portal?

Still, many Minnesota fans and media members are wondering out loud why a power-5 school has to drop down to the FCS level in order to find a transfer portal quarterback, when dozens of FBS arms are available.

The answer to that question is a complicated one. to a degree. Obviously, PJ Fleck has set himself up for failure in the portal with the way he has run his offense since taking over as Minnesota head coach. This program has a ‘run-first and foremost’ identity that is not working to their advantage when trolling the portal for bites from top quarterbacks.

Had the Gophers staff (mostly PJ) entrusted Kaliakmanis to throw the ball 40 times per game this season, and he responded with 35 interceptions and 30 touchdowns, they’d be in a lot better shape shopping the QB market.

Even if they had finished 3-9, instead of 5-7, transfer portal QBs would have a lot more interest in enrolling at the University of Minnesota if Fleck had shown any type of commitment to the air attack, even if he didn’t trust Athan or any other quarterbacks on roster.

But PJ Fleck’s biggest problem is… NIL

minnesota gophers transfer portal quarterback qb how much nil pj fleck
Oct 1, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck reacts during the second quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

But offensive philosophy is far from the Gophers’ biggest problem. It’s been widely reported, at this point, how behind the University of Minnesota is in the Name, Image and Likeness game. Dinkytown Athletes, the U of M NIL collective, is gaining steam and making smart deals that will surely pay off in the future.

Related: PJ Fleck Pleads Gophers Fans and Boosters for More NIL Money

It’s impossible to know exactly how much NIL money each school has at its disposal, when going after high school or transfer portal talent, given most collectives do not make any of their contract numbers public, either on the player/school side or the advertising/fundraising side.

What we are pretty sure of, though, is that the Gophers sit in the bottom half of the Big Ten, when it comes to Name Image and Likeness money at their disposal. And given the NIL contract rumors floating around, when it comes to top quarterbacks in the transfer portal, the math on why Minnesota offered who they did, starts to make more sense.

How much NIL money does Gopher football have available?

Well, let’s ask Ryan Burns of GopherIllustrated.com (247Sports). Why are we asking him? Because he is 247 Sports’ lead Minnesota recruiting analyst and a Gopher football beat writer. Not only that but Ryan’s first cousin and regular Gopher Gridiron podcast guest, Derek Burns, co-founded and operates Dinkytown Athletics.

Related: PJ Fleck Must Find Quarterback He Can Trust in Offseason

In his other weekly podcast, Pair and a Spare, with Justin Gaard (KFAN) and Chip Scoggins (Star Tribune), Ryan Burns said that the Gophers, if they had a top QB who was interested in transferring here could probably round up $100,000 in NIL. If they needed $1 million… no chance.

Ryan Burns: “It’s a Big Ten opportunity, where if you’re a kid from, say, New Hampshire…”

Chip Scoggins: “Well yeah, I mean, if you shoot higher than FCS, and I don’t know that they can because… oh the other drawback, the big one, is NIL.”

Burns: “And if you want six figures in NIL, you ain’t gonna be coming here and that’s just the reality of it.”

Justin Gaard: “No matter what? No matter who you are? What if Arch Manning wanted to come? If Arch Manning wanted to transfer, could we find him a million [in NIL]? Could we find him $100 grand?”

Burns: “I think you could find him $100 grand, I don’t think you could find him a $million.”

Pair and a Spare Podcast

There you have it. If stretched, PJ Fleck & Co could round up maybe $100,000 for one player in NIL contracts. But if there’s a quarterback or another player wanting more than that, there’s not much of a chance for the maroon and gold.

Which obviously begs the question, how much does a top QB cost? If Arch Manning or one of the best transfer portal QBs available was interested in coming to Minnesota, how much would Dinkytown Athletes have to find? Would a million be enough? Probably not

Related: Minnesota Running Back Zach Evans Entering Transfer Portal

How much NIL does a good but not great college quarterback cost?

Let’s start with what Nebraska coach Matt Rhule said earlier this week. He told media members that an elite transfer quarterback definitely costs… wait for it… over $1 million per season. Rhule said that some teams have players making as much as $6-7 million in NIL contracts.

“Make no mistake: a good quarterback in the portal costs $1 million to $1.5 million to $2 million right now. So just so we’re on the same page, right? Let’s make sure we all understand what’s happening. There are some teams that have $6-7 million players playing for them.”

Matt Rhule (via Max Olson – The Athletic)

Out of all the schools in the Big Ten, even after the four PAC-12 schools join, Nebraska has to have a top-5 NIL budget. Most Husker fans live for Saturday in the fall. It wouldn’t surprise me if most churches near Lincoln hold two collections during Sunday mass or service. One for the church and one for Nebraska football.

If any coach in the Big Ten West knows how much a top QB costs, and I can guarantee they all do, it’s Rhule. Wanna aim a bit lower? Maybe you can’t afford the 5-star redshirt freshman from [place favorite top SEC or Big Ten East school here] or that under-the-radar Heisman candidate from a lower tier power-5 program…

Related: Minnesota Gophers Bowl Projections 2023

But what if we “Rhule out” (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) the top tier QBs? What does it cost to bring in a solid proven power-5 quarterback? For that answer, we turn back to Ryan Burns, who told Justin Gaard that it’s at least $250,000 to find that type of QB, which is far more than what Minnesota can offer.

Gaard: “And what are what are good transfer quarterbacks going for in the market right now, according to your 247 sources?”

Burns: “At least a quarter-million.”

Scoggins: “And that’s… are those power 5 quarterbacks?”

Burns: “Proven power five guys.”

Pair and a Spare Podcast

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