Ohio State's NIL Time Machine: What if the NCAA had let Former Players Cash In?

Chris Gaitten

The NCAA’s recent “decision”—compelled in part by a Supreme Court ruling—to allow athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness marks the dawn of college football’s Big Money Era. But big-time cash has been flowing in—to everyone but players, of course—since a separate Supreme Court ruling broke the NCAA’s iron grip on TV broadcasts in 1984.

Which begs a question: What commercial deals would Ohio State football players have inked if the NCAA’s NIL (name, image, likeness) rules had been enacted four decades ago?

LeCharles Bentley

Auto admen: LeCharles Bentley

LeCharles Bentley could’ve endorsed high-end rides while Joe Germaine marketed to the masses, but nothing would’ve beaten an ad featuring Keith Byars running shoeless to Byers Chevy.

Zoo crew: A.J. Hawk

Even Jack Hanna’s appeal would pale compared to promos with A.J. Hawk, James “Little Animal” Laurinaitis, Andy “Big Kat” Katzenmoyer, and Joey and Nick Bosa, aka “Big Bear” and “Little Bear.”

Celeb(ish) presence: Brandon "Bam" Childress

Event organizers looking for some pseudo star power could’ve booked defensive end Will Smith, linebacker Raekwon McMillan or wide receiver Ken-Yon Rambo. Meanwhile, Brandon “Bam” Childress could be the doppelganger of Creed actor Michael B. Jordan.

Kenny Guiton

Big brand buy-in: Kenny Guiton

Justin Fields would’ve been a perfect spokesperson for Scotts Miracle-Gro (or, with his baseball skills, a customized “Fields of Dreams” product). And who better to serve as pitchman for Nationwide Insurance than Braxton Miller’s safety net, backup QB Kenny Guiton?

Generic guys: Bobby Carpenter

Cafés and pastry shops might have looked to Brian Rolle, Jerome Baker, Chris “Beanie” Wells, Julius Yeast and Tracy Sprinkle, while blue-collar businesses sought out Bobby Carpenter, Ahmed Plummer and Na’il Diggs. But nobody rues the NCAA’s foot-dragging more than quarterback Johnny Mattress, an NIL goldmine if ever there was one.

This story is from the September 2021 issue of Columbus Monthly.