Nebraska coach Matt Rhule said last week that a good quarterback in the transfer portal goes for $1 million to $2 million these days. Gophers coach P.J. Fleck agreed Thursday, adding, "That's almost any position."
Fleck was speaking in a video news conference previewing the Dec. 26 Quick Lane Bowl, and he didn't hold back describing the runaway trains of name, image and likeness (NIL) deals and the transfer portal, which have collided spectacularly to change college football.
"I've heard numbers this week, whether real or not, that just make your jaw drop, that are pretty much most of our entire NIL [total]," Fleck said.
The first 30-day window for the transfer portal opened Monday, and teams legally could start shopping for undergraduate transfers to fill needs. For college football powers that have NIL collectives flush with cash, the sky's the limit.
For example, three of this year's Heisman Trophy finalists — quarterbacks Bo Nix of Oregon, Michael Penix Jr. of Washington and Jayden Daniels of LSU — are transfers, as was last year's winner, USC's Caleb Williams.
Minnesota's official NIL collective, Dinkytown Athletes, was launched in September 2022 and has been instrumental over the past week with the Gophers retaining players such as running back Darius Taylor, wide receiver Daniel Jackson and cornerback Justin Walley.
"Dinkytown Athletes has done a really good job of providing our student athletes with a lot of support. ... I love where we're at," Fleck said. "We can always be bigger, but we're way bigger than we were last year. We're making huge strides in that department."
The coach also knows that in acquiring transfer talent, the Gophers shop at Target, while the sport's blue bloods visit Louis Vuitton.
Fleck said when Rhule spoke of $2 million quarterbacks, "He's not talking about us, put it that way."
Instead, Fleck and his staff are on the lookout for players who fit their culture and might be at a bargain price. They believe they found one in New Hampshire graduate transfer quarterback Max Brosmer, who verbally committed to the Gophers on Sunday night.
Minnesota needed an influx of talent in its passing game, which ranks 126th of 133 FBS teams with 153.2 passing yards per game this season. Starting quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis completed only 53.2% of his throws and battled inconsistency all season before entering his name into the transfer portal on Monday.
Brosmer is the FCS passing yards leader with 3,464 yards and ranks second with 29 touchdown passes. He's also completing 64.1% of his throws. He is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award, given to the top player at the FCS level.
The on-field talent and leadership caught Fleck's eye, and Brosmer's intangibles stood out, too.
"One thing I love about the young man we just got committed is [NIL money] was the last thing we even talked about," Fleck said. "In fact, that wasn't even talked about until after he committed. … We were able to get a really, really good one, a really special one that has almost a 4.0 [grade-point average] in kinesiology and wants to be a doctor and is really smart."
With Minnesota's NIL situation not among the wealthiest in college football, Fleck and his staff emphasize other positive aspects of the program, such as academics and its charitable endeavors. The fact that the Gophers are even playing in a bowl game with a 5-7 record is because of their work in the classroom that gave them a 992 Academic Progress Rate score to secure the final bowl spot.
"These are 70-year decisions," he said, speaking of education. "This isn't a seven-month decision."
While acknowledging the program's NIL limitations, Fleck sees room for both transfer players and the program to benefit through balance.
"My job is to make value-based decisions," Fleck said. "What does our university value? What do I value? What does that family value? What does the kid value? And I'm not saying money can't be a part of it. But if it's No. 1 …" he said, pausing to emphasize his point.