Nick Saban is retired. Jim Harbaugh has gone to the NFL. Kirby Smart's team has already won two of the last three national championships, but now there really may be nothing left to stop the Georgia Bulldogs from being college football's bully for the foreseeable future.
Georgia quarterback Carson Beck announced back in December that he would be returning for one more year in school, then went out almost two weeks later and helped his team stuff Florida State into a locker in the Orange Bowl, 63-3
In the words of Larry David, life is apparently pretty, pretty, pretty good for the quarterback of the top program in the country.
It was reported back in November that Beck was working on a major NIL deal to stay in school, and if the above is any indication, it looks like that's exactly what's happened.
College athletics have certainly come a long way since the days of Shabazz Napier and the "hungry Huskies." NIL has allowed players to finally get in on the action like never before, but Beck's latest purchase begs the question:
With NIL running rampant, has college sports completely lost its way?
Listen, I'm a capitalist. I'm being paid to write this article, so it would be hypocritical of me to suggest that someone should not have the right to be compensated for their work. I also recognize the unfairness of a bunch of adults profiting off of the hard work of college kids, and I support athletes being paid for their participation in a multi-billion-dollar business.
This isn't even about criticizing Beck for blowing a quarter-of-a-million dollars on a flashy ride. "College kid makes irresponsible financial decision" is not exactly a novel headline. As a freshman, I once walked from my dorm at UNC down to the Dean Dome with $400 in my pocket, because nothing was going to stop me from seeing my first Carolina-Duke game live. It wasn't my best decision.
Georgia will likely enter next season as the favorite to win the national championship, and with another great season, Beck could be positioned as one of the top quarterbacks in the 2025 draft. Even if he never goes to the NFL, though, On3.com pegs Beck's NIL value at $1.5 million, which means he can afford the Lambo and at least a few tanks of gas.
Somewhere, though, Reggie Bush's mantel is missing its Heisman. The Fab Five's achievements have all been vacated. Money has always been a part of college sports, yet what once was scandalous is now something to be celebrated.
We live in an era where sports is more about the money than ever before. College athletes have multi-million dollar NIL deals, professional leagues are in bed with gambling companies, and human rights violations can be covered up by throwing gobs of money at some of the world's best golfers.
What's the solution? I don't know, I'm a guy that once spent a few hundred bucks to watch my team lose to its biggest rival by 29. I don't begrudge Carson Beck his right to make money for being a good football player, or to spend that money on a car that would make James Bond blush. I think I just liked it better when it wasn't one of the biggest sports stories of the day.