Stop blaming college football players for chasing greener NIL pastures

·2 min read
FILE - Pittsburgh wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) hauls in a pass for a touchdown against Duke safety Lummie Young IV (23) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Nov. 6, 2021, in Durham, N.C. Addison is exploring his options. The 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation's top receiver is in the NCAA transfer portal. Addison put in his paperwork by the May 1 deadline and his entry became visible Tuesday. (AP Photo/Chris Seward, File)
FILE - Pittsburgh wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) hauls in a pass for a touchdown against Duke safety Lummie Young IV (23) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Nov. 6, 2021, in Durham, N.C. Addison is exploring his options. The 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation's top receiver is in the NCAA transfer portal. Addison put in his paperwork by the May 1 deadline and his entry became visible Tuesday. (AP Photo/Chris Seward, File)

Welcome to SEC Unfiltered, the USA TODAY NETWORK's newsletter on SEC sports. Look for this newsletter in your inbox every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Today, Knox News columnist John Adams takes over:

Jordan Addison won the Biletnikoff Award last season as the nation's premier wide receiver. But the Pittsburgh star generated even more publicity when he entered the transfer portal this spring.

Never mind how many players before him had sought greater success through the portal. None of them seemingly evoked more anger from the anti-portal section as Addison, who was first linked to Southern California as a possible destination.

Those who find the NIL rule as abhorrent as the portal also were appalled that the nation’s No. 1 receiver would leave ACC champion Pittsburgh for a more storied football program like USC, which could enable a student-athlete to better capitalize on his name, image and likeness.

Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi suspected tampering and called USC coach Lincoln Riley several times, according to an ESPN report. USC denied the accusation.

Addison has since been linked to Alabama and Georgia, which played for the national championship in January and are interested in replenishing their receiving corps. Texas also has emerged as a strong contender for Addison, who caught 100 passes last season as a sophomore.

My questions: Why the outrage? What did you think would happen when the NCAA ruled student-athletes could transfer without losing a year of eligibility and could make money off their name, image and likeness?

So what if Pittsburgh just won a conference championship. It can’t compete with USC’s history – or the Trojans’ resolve to revive their glory days. USC hired Riley away from Oklahoma, and Sooners star quarterback Caleb Williams followed his coach to the West Coast. Riley also has added 14 other transfers.

Nor can Pittsburgh match Alabama’s or Georgia’s recent success. Why wouldn’t a player as accomplished as Addison consider such programs?

Critics act as though such a move would extinguish parity in the sport. Let’s not kid ourselves. Parity is a myth. College football isn’t the NCAA basketball tournament. Mid-majors don’t routinely knock off elite programs. And not all Power Five programs are alike.

Alabama has won six of the past 20 national championships. LSU has won three. Clemson, Florida and Ohio State have won two apiece. Georgia, Auburn, Florida State, Texas and USC have won one each.

The best players often are attracted to the best programs. But so are coaches.

Suppose USC had sought Narduzzi instead of Riley as its next coach. Do you think he still would be at Pittsburgh?

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Stop blaming college football players for chasing greener NIL pastures