Lincoln Riley: Lack of NIL rules has ‘completely changed’ college football recruiting

USC football coach Lincoln Riley instructs players during a spring football practice in March.
USC football coach Lincoln Riley instructs players during a spring football practice in March. Riley would like to see more rules regulating name, image and likeness deals.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Less than a year after the NCAA opened the floodgates for college athletes to be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness, Lincoln Riley barely recognizes what the recruiting landscape has become.

“It’s completely changed it,” Riley said Saturday. “In every sense of the word, it’s different.”

USC’s new coach has regularly voiced his approval of athletes profiting off of their name, image and likeness. But he’s been a vocal critic since last summer of the unintended consequences that followed the NCAA’s decision to throw up its hands with regards to rules governing a new landscape that has radically changed college football.


USC coaches say linebacker Raesjon Davis is improving while cornerback Domani Jackson made his spring practice debut on Thursday.

April 8, 2022

Last July, at Big 12 media day, Riley said he felt, in the absence of universal rules, coaches had been “hung out to dry.”

Ever since, it’s become a race to exploit that lack of rules on the recruiting trail. Just as Riley and others anticipated.

“There was no doubt it was going to seep into recruiting at some point,” Riley said. “I think anybody that cares about college football is not real pleased with that because that wasn’t the intention, we all get that. A lot of people voiced concerns when NIL came up that there had to be a plan for that, and instead we instituted NIL without any plan for that, so that’s why we’re at where we’re at. I’m sure at some point there’s going to be a market correction, if you will, with recruiting. Hopefully there will be, because in a perfect world they stay separate.”

It doesn’t appear to be trending in that direction any time soon. The Athletic recently reported that one five-star quarterback in the class of 2023 had signed an NIL agreement with a recruiting collective that could pay him up to $8 million by his junior year at the school.

USC quarterback Miller Moss has been appreciative of the open communication and fair shot he’s gotten under new coach Lincoln Riley.

April 5, 2022

Asked about that specific report, Riley reiterated his support for athletes profiting off of NIL, but said he felt such deals were “not good for this game.”

“It was going to happen, and honestly, probably good that something that outrageous happened as soon as it did because I think it shines a pretty bright light on, we’ve got something here we need to take a look at,” Riley said. “I think we’ve got enough people out there where we can figure out a better, smoother path that can separate the two. Again, fully supportive of guys being able to make money off their name, image and likeness. Fully supportive of that, no matter where they’re at, but it should not be a part of recruiting. They ought to know what opportunities are there that the current players are getting, sure, absolutely — yeah, you want to know that. But these promises that are made when guys are in high school, man, it’s just not good for the game.”