Ed Orgeron is in midseason form behind a microphone.
And in the process, he's trying to get his LSU football players P-A-I-D.
Speaking Wednesday to a rotary club chapter in Baton Rouge, Orgeron – according to a reporter in attendance – both addressed the burgeoning Name, Image and Likeness phenomenon now sweeping college athletics.
NIL legislation, in effect since July 1, allows student-athletes to monetize their individual brands via endorsement and marketing deals.
“We're paying players now,” Orgeron told the crowd, per The Athletic's Brody Miller. “So, if you guys want to start paying our players, you can go ahead.”
Orgeron's comments – arriving with 24 hours of numerous other national NIL marketing deals for student-athletes, including Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz revealing his partnership with Panini cards and Notre Dame All-American safety Kyle Hamilton partnering on a podcast with Colin Cowherd – elicited a follow-up question from the crowd.
“If you want to give our players money, legally,” do it,” Orgeron said. “We would like that done. Other schools are doing it … and bragging about it.”
Last week, Alabama coach Nick Saban grabbed national headlines – usually the last thing on the mind of the leader who hates media “rat poison” – when Saban divulged that the Crimson Tide's likely starting quarterback, Bryce Young, had inked nearly $1 million in endorsement deals. Saban did not specify what NIL agreements Young had obtained.
Though Orgeron emphasized to the crowd that he favored NIL and student-athletes' ability to earn endorsement dollars, LSU's coach did admit that he fretted over those elements becoming locker-room distractions.
“I just don't want it to affect the locker room,” he said. “I'm for it, but you came here (to LSU) to get an education and win football games. If it (NIL) becomes your sole purpose, you're headed in the wrong direction.”