Finebaum and Adelson discuss Rashada's wild recruitment

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the saga of Jaden RashadaResistance to signing up for Florida’s football program had hit the college football world the previous two weeks, and the Gators were in a holding pattern as they sought a solution.

Eventually, the two sides seem to part ways as Rashada asked for the release of her signed Florida national letter of intent, and the expectation is that UF will grant her request and allow the #6 ranked quarterback in the 2023 recruiting class to meet a new destination, somewhere other than Gainesville.

With the Rashada saga appearing to have reached a conclusion as far as his brief tenure with the Gators is concerned, college football’s talking heads weighed in on the landmark case, including SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum.

The longtime host of The Paul Finebaum Show joined ESPN’s Andrea Adelson on Wednesday to discuss, among other topics, the request for Rashada’s release, and neither party held back when it came to expressing dismay at the circumstances surrounding Rashada’s decision not to enroll at UF.

In particular, the alleged $13 million NIL deal for Rashada, which Adelson was quick to point out she couldn’t verify as accurate. Either way, there’s reason to believe that the number was mixed up, though Rashada’s camp isn’t the first to do such a thing during the early name, image, and likeness stages.

“Several weeks ago he was at the Under Armor game, he talks about how he can’t wait to get to campus, he’s so excited, he’s going to be a great player. And now he’s asking for his release of his Letter of Intent because his NIL deal supposedly fell through. And I want to be perfectly clear here, Paul, we have no idea if this $13 million figure for a NIL deal is accurate, frankly,” Adelson said. “Because here’s the thing: A lot of these numbers that are released are released by people who are serving their own interests, whether they’re agents, others who are negotiating NIL deals to maybe try to inflate some of these numbers. As that process moves forward, we move forward at NIL So whether or not the $13 million dollars is accurate I have no idea. But the fact is there was some kind of NIL deal in place that has now fallen apart and he doesn’t want to go to Florida anymore.”

In response, Finebaum disputed that Rashada’s signing was one of the only bright spots in Napier’s first season at Gainesville – a 2022 season the SEC Network host made it clear he wasn’t particularly excited.

“His signing at the time was a huge boost for Billy Napier, who was struggling in the NIL seat and also in the draft, and just a miserable season,” said Finebaum. “So it was one of the few positive aspects of the ’22 campaign.”

Outside of the narrative, Adelson said, the loss of Rashada negatively impacts Napier’s mission to rebuild the show, starting with the signal caller position. With Jack Miller III entering his second year with the program along with the addition of Graham Mertz, the Gators are not without promising quarterback parts, but without a highly-rated rookie at the position, the room’s long-term ceiling is, in theory, dropped in 2023.

“Obviously Billy Napier is taking most of the heat in all of this because of the importance of the quarterback position. Particularly at the University of Florida where they have three Heisman Trophy winners who have played quarterback. And now Anthony Richardson is moving for the NFL Draft. We saw what Jack Miller looked like in the bowl game, not so great. They brought in a transfer from Wisconsin to potentially compete for that job with, they thought, Jaden Rashada. And now you look, right, who’s going to be , Graham Mertz? Will it be Graham Mertz? Will it be Jack Miller? Will they be able to find someone here in the next few weeks to sign? Will they have to go through the transfer portal?” “You know, this is the key position he had to hit, there’s no doubt about it. And Billy Napier will probably come in here and say the same thing: ‘Yeah, I gotta hit the quarterback.’ So the fact that everything is falling apart right now considering what season Florida had, what Kirby is doing in Georgia, what it looks like Florida State is doing. It hurts, Paul, there’s no doubt about it.”

As for the circumstances that resulted in Florida’s inability to bring Rashada to Gainesville, Adelson believes this is indicative of the current landscape of college football as it relates to the NIL’s impact on the game.

The reality is that the NIL is determined by state law rather than clear legislation at the federal or NCAA level, meaning that what is legal in one state may be illegal in another.

When it comes to winning over potential customers and retaining players, some states are at a competitive disadvantage due to the inaugural legislation enacted by the state legislature. In addition, candidates have agent representation, which is a relatively foreign concept in collegiate athletics.

And with NIL collectives involved at each institution, the number of people working on the roster aspect of collegiate athletics has increased.

Suffice it to say that the game has changed and with it remarkable situations have emerged.

“Paul, when NIL first came out, a lot of people who were talking about the Wild West and doomsday scenarios were predicting situations like this. That it would get to a point where you would start to hear about some of these contracts that would be offered by collectives, which are trying to bring you recruits or transfers and help your programs a little bit, and you have a situation where things fall apart as spectacularly as the way they did,” continued Adelson. “Because when you’re talking about the millions of dollars that are supposedly on the table, and you’re talking about an 18-year-old, plus all the advisers that he has around him, plus agents who are probably looking outside not just for the athlete, but maybe for their own self-interest as they move forward in this NIL market, and maybe try to pull in some other recruits and show them, ‘Hey, look what I’ve got in this player, maybe I can get that for you? I can do better here .’ You know, this is all a situation, as bizarre as it sounds, that was highly predictable. And a lot of people that I’ve talked to, it’s not necessarily the recruits that are screwing things up. It’s these agents and third parties and collectives and all these other people who are trying to have one foot in the door and one arm on the table, so to speak, who are going to screw things up for a lot of people.

“And honestly, Paul, I feel bad for this young man. I feel bad for Florida. I think everyone is pointing the finger like this, up, down. It’s like that Spider-Man GIF where you have all Kind world to point out. Who knows who’s to blame here, but the bottom line is I don’t necessarily feel like this is a situation that’s going to be a one-off situation. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw things like this continue to repeat themselves.”

Which brought the conversation to the party involved in all of this: Rashada. Where it goes next remains to be seen, and Power Five tier spots are continually being claimed as National Signing Day approaches in less than two weeks. The public nature of his recruitment could also be a factor, Adelson speculated, and could dissuade programs from bringing him on board at the last minute.

It’s the latest twist in the Jaden Rashada saga, which can be resolved as it pertains to his future in Florida, though Rashada’s future remains unresolved.

“We’re here at the end of January, mid-January. We’re getting close to the second signing date. Everyone’s basically done signing off on their classes, right? There might be some guys who were left out. So if you’re Jaden Rashada and you is trying to figure out, ‘Well, what’s my next step?’ Well, who’s going to have a spot? And also, how does that look for other teams, for potential teammates, for other NILs, about how this whole situation has not only played out now with Florida, but also as I said going back at the beginning, how all this was handled with the Miami compromise. Now, what happened with Florida, I mean, this is a young one now that a lot of people might have questions about how to move forward,” Adelson said. “What will his word look like? What will he look for? How many millions of dollars will it take to be able to pay him? And so if I’m a coach and I’m sitting here looking at him, yes, he has all the talent and potential of the world. But when you sit here and start paying these types of figures — of collectives, right? These are collectives that are doing this, not the schools, these collectives, for an unproven high school recruit. How do you know the There are no guarantees anywhere with any high school recruit. And we’ve seen how many of these quarterbacks in particular, who came in as five stars, highly rated, who ended up transferring three times, who never made it to starting quarterbacks. every year, across the country. So when you sit here and start thinking about, ‘Okay, what does it take to pay a high school recruit to be our quarterback?’ It’s a risky proposition, and for Jaden Rashada, obviously, it’s going to be a risky proposition going forward, because there are going to be a lot of NIL teams and collectives that are going to have a lot of questions about him.

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