Like every other team in the country, the Clemson Tigers are trying to adapt to the ever-changing landscape in college football.
One of the biggest changes came with the implementation of NIL, with smaller schools like Clemson trying to create its own niche. That includes building a first of its kind center devoted to NIL, as well as someone to oversee and coordinate the efforts.
However, NIL is something that just you just don’t hear many of the players on Dabo Swinney’s roster openly discussing, and on a recent episode of the Next Up Podcast, starting quarterback Cade Klubnik said it’s that culture that makes Clemson so special.
“What’s so special is just guys don’t really talk about that,” Klubnik said. “You hear fights and stuff about other colleges and fights in the locker room about some guys making so much money and this and that. I mean, I can’t remember a conversation of guys ever talking about NIL. And the only time that ever happens is when Beaux Collins gifts everybody sunglasses or something like that. You know what I mean? Just guys gifting stuff, but it’s really just not our priority.”
Serving as DJ Uiagalelei’s backup during his freshman season, Klubnik said NIL has yet to have much of an impact on him personally, and that is perfectly fine. Although, now that he is the full-time starter, that is likely to change. Either way, for Klubnik, the primary focus will be on his play and how he can help the Tigers win football games.
“Honestly, hasn’t affected me a ton,” Klubnik said. “I think that I’m really focused on one thing and that’s football. And I think that that kind of stuff will just come along. In the past year, I really haven’t thought about it at all. I haven’t done anything, and I know I’ve been wanting to wait till I start and play. So I think I might start getting to it a little more.”
While Klubnik is absolutely a proponent of college football players having more opportunities to earn money, he also knows there are also potential pitfalls. The sophomore quarterback used former Texas A&M standout Johnny Manziel as one example of why NIL is very much needed.
“I think there’s a lot of pros,” Klubnik said. “There’s universities making… You look at Texas A&M when Johnny Manziel was there. They’re making hundreds of millions of dollars off this dude and he’s the hottest name in college football maybe ever, and he didn’t make a legal scent off of it, but he ended up making some, but he didn’t get to… And even if it was legal, he would’ve blown it up.”
“He would’ve been able to monetize his image a ton and then he got to the NFL he didn’t end up succeeding. So he ended up losing a lot that he could have done and made while he was in college. So I think that there’s a lot of opportunities for guys to end up making some money, and long-term money that they can make, and if they’re smart with it, save it and invest it and use it long term. Or end up helping families back home and wherever they’re from.”
On the other side of the coin, Klubnik has also seen some of the negatives associated with the new rules.
“There’s also a lot of cons to it,” Klubnik said. “It’s hurting grades and it’s going to hurt graduation rates and there’s going to be a lot of short-term money where guys are just trying to get all the deals they can and spend it on shoes and all this stuff they can get. And then they’re caring more about the number in their bank account than the number in their grade books.”
At the end of the day, Klubnik prefers the approach Clemson is taking with NIL. He also defended his head coach, insisting that Swinney isn’t nearly as against NIL as some of the narratives out there would suggest. Swinney only has the best interest of his players in mind, which is one of the reasons Klubnik wanted to play at Clemson to begin with.
“So I think that’s what’s really special,” Klubnik said. “A lot of people hate on coach Swinney for not liking NIL, but it’s not that he doesn’t like NIL, he doesn’t like that it’s going to hurt graduation rates, because that’s really what he cares about most. He’s great about guys taking advantage of their opportunity, but he just doesn’t like it. He just doesn’t want it to affect guys long-term.”
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