Are Florida schools about to take over college football?

Florida State Seminoles, Miami Hurricanes. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Florida State Seminoles, Miami Hurricanes. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images) /

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just changed college football forever.

Groundbreaking Florida legislation will change college football going forward.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a bill that will allow student-athletes to benefit from the name, image and likeness financially. This bill will go into effect on July 1, 2021. Given that his state has seven Division I programs, including three blue-bloods in the Power 5, DeSantis just effectively put the NCAA on the clock to get their stuff together, regarding all things NIL.

DeSantis is the governor of one of the south’s two most populous states, along with the state of Texas. Both states, as well as other populous ones such as Georgia and Tennessee, have member institutions in the SEC. All four states have at least two Power 5 universities and four major Division I programs. But with DeSantis taking charge in Florida, this changes everything.

While California Governor Gavin Newsom put similar legislation in place months ago, the Pac-12 and the Mountain West do not have anywhere close to the gravitas of the ACC and SEC do in the college football landscape. But with Florida making a stand beginning in a little more than a year, college athletics will change forever as we know it. Will Florida now dominate college football?

Florida will let players benefit from their name, image and likeness.

On the surface, you would think Florida schools absolutely have a massive advantage in recruiting because of this. To be fair, the state of Florida schools have a huge advantage over most states anyway because there is more football talent in the Sunshine State than in most other areas of the country. Not all, but some. That’s for sure.

So do the Florida Gators have an advantage beginning in 2021 over the Georgia Bulldogs in SEC play? What about the Florida State Seminoles and the Miami Hurricanes over the Clemson Tigers and Louisville Cardinals in the ACC? How does this help Group of 5 programs like the UCF Knights, the South Florida Bulls, the Florida Atlantic Owls and the Florida International Panthers?

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With the Gators, it’s negligible really. Florida is a national power as is, and Dan Mullen’s program already recruits among the best in the country. Do you think a deal with a Gainesville automotive dealership will sway an impressionable recruit’s commitment away from Alabama, Georgia or LSU to Florida? It could, but it won’t be as impactful as it would in the ACC, AAC and Conference USA.

A similar deal in place with a local establishment in Coral Gables and Tallahassee might get a kid to sign with the Canes or Noles over the Tigers or Cardinals in the ACC. Again, Florida State and Miami are traditional powers that have been on a bit of a dry spell. NIL advantages could help bring them back, but so will their head coaches Manny Diaz and Mike Norvell.

Where it gets interesting is in the Group of 5 level. Having your face on an Orlando or Tampa billboard gives UCF and South Florida massive advantages over AAC contenders like the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Memphis Tigers. The same thing applies in Boca Raton and Miami with Florida Atlantic and FIU over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers or the Marshall Thundering Herd.

In short, approving players to benefit from their name, image and likeness helps all student-athletes, but it’s the biggest advantage that comes in the Group of 5 level, especially in The American and Conference USA. UCF may not be the only Group of 5 school in Florida going to New Year’s Six bowls anymore.

So what does DeSantis’ signed bill really mean anyway? What are we truly missing here?

All this legislation does is expedite the process for interstate commerce from NIL by the NCAA. They have a little over a year to get this right. Once Florida allows its student-athletes to be paid for their name, image and likeness, that means the Power 5 and the Group of 5 are completely affected. SEC football is the most important property the NCAA has. They cannot screw this up.

The state of Florida may not dominate college football because of NLI, but DeSantis’ signed bill was the straw that broke the camel’s back on this critical collegiate athletics issue.

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