The Notre Dame football program is on a different playing field than the biggest programs in the country regarding NIL and the transfer portal. If the Irish want to be playoff contenders, they must adapt or be left behind.
The first issue the Notre Dame football staff faces is being outbid for high school recruits looking to secure early financial benefits. While the Irish are helping their current players with NIL income, they’re not using it to pursue high school recruits. Though Marcus Freeman is genuinely one of the best recruiters in the country, even he can’t compete with the promises and money being thrown around by the big-time NIL players. Name, image, and likeness is becoming a pay-for-play workaround for many big-time schools.
Notre Dame football has already lost multiple major recruits to the new NIL rules. For example, according to 247Sports recruiting insiders with Oklahoma, Notre Dame, and Oregon, NIL was a significant factor in Peyton Bowen’s commitment to first Oregon and second Oklahoma. But, to be fair, can you blame a high school kid for wanting immediate financial security? (These are notes listed on premium message boards by various recruiting insiders. Check them out at 247Sports with a VIP subscription to see more.)
If the Notre Dame football program wanted to become a significant NIL player, there’s no question they could do so with ease
The problem becomes two-fold when you look at their academic standards for recruits and transfers. Many teams not consistently landing top recruits can secure them in the transfer portal. Thanks to their transfer academic standards and regulations, Notre Dame doesn’t have that luxury. Not only will they fall behind in initial high school recruiting, but it’ll be tough to make up for it in the transfer portal.
Not to mention, NIL will still be a factor in the portal as well. The fact is that Notre Dame will either have to adapt to the new landscape of college football or be left behind. Were Marcus Freeman a head coach ten years ago, Notre Dame may already be a perennial championship contender. While it’s not impossible to create a playoff contender with the new rules, it doesn’t help when you’re playing by a different set of rules than everyone else.
No doubt, should Notre Dame change their ways in these two areas, it’d be a powerhouse in college football. However, given how volatile the situation is, don’t expect changes from the university anytime soon.