If NCAA rules had been different, these players would have done very well
Earlier this week, the NCAA Board of Governors publicly stated that it supports a proposed plan that would allow college athletes to make money for the use of their name, image, and likeness. Pushed by California passing the Fair Pay to Play Act and states like Florida following suit, the NCAA may never be the same as student-athletes will finally get a fairer cut of the massive profits they generate.
It's hard to know how much players will actually make when the new rules are implemented, but it's fair to say that there's a lot of money on the table as far as endorsements and sponsorship opportunities go. Plenty of past stars are likely wondering how much money they missed out on, and here are 10 players (in chronological order) who would have made life-changing money as an undergraduate.
Archie Griffin, RB, Ohio State (1972-75)
The only player with two Heisman Trophies was also a four-year starter and three-time All-American. Even in an era where Ohio State played on national television only three times a year, Griffin was a superstar.
Herschel Walker, RB, Georgia (1980-82)
Walker became an instant star as a freshman and rushed for 5,259 yards in three seasons, while Georgia went 33-3 and won a national championship. If he had been able to make money off his likeness, he might have chosen to stay in Athens for his senior year instead of leaving for the USFL. Had that happened, he could have finished with 7,000 rushing yards.
Doug Flutie, QB, Boston College (1981-84)
The 1984 Heisman Trophy winner finished his career as the all-time leader in passing yards, and his Hail Mary against Miami is etched in college football history. Imagine if he had been able to make money off of it.
Bo Jackson, RB, Auburn (1982-85)
Jackson was a two-sport star in both baseball and football and Nike’s "Bo Knows" campaign was one of the most groundbreaking in history. If the NCAA rules were different, that campaign may have started sooner.
Brian Bosworth, LB, Oklahoma (1984-86)
With his mohawk, shades, and motor mouth, "The Boz" was a household name during his time in Norman and his play on the field backed up his statements. To give you a sense of his marketing savvy, his company mass-produced shirts reading, "BAN THE BOZ" for NFL fans who hated him.
Deion Sanders, CB/PR, Florida State (1985-88)
"Neon Deion" started all four years at Florida State, where he was a two-time All-American and the most exciting defensive back and return specialist in the country. He also played baseball and ran track and once played the first game in a doubleheader, ran a leg of 4x100 relay, and then played the other game. Cha-ching!
Raghib Ismail, WR/RB/KR, Notre Dame (1988-90)
Notre Dame has the largest fan base in the country, and "Rocket" Ismail was the team's most electrifying player during a period when Notre Dame never finished lower than sixth. He also made the cover of Sports Illustrated twice, which only strengthened his brand.
Peyton Manning, QB, Tennessee (1994-97)
Manning was a star well before he retired as the NFL's all-time leading passer and its preeminent pitchman. He was the most high-profile recruit when he came to Tennessee and was starting and giving interviews by his fifth game as a true freshman.
Tim Tebow, QB, Florida (2006-09)
The first player to win a Heisman Trophy as a sophomore recently said that he doesn't want to profit off of his college jersey sales. Whether you agree or disagree with him, that stance leaves a lot of money on the table.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (2011-13)
"Johnny Football" (a nickname that he trademarked) became the first redshirt freshman to win the Heisman in 2012. The next year, numerous news articles explored how much money Texas A&M had made off of his likeness. While it is difficult to ascertain an exact figure, the program certainly made millions.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.