NIL has made Michigan players richer, of course. It has also made the program better. Rather than fraying the team’s culture, NIL has reinforced it. In the past two years, the Wolverines have played harder, with a hyperfocus on team performance. They have grown closer. Their bonds with one another and the fan base have strengthened.
Since the Supreme Court ruling, Michigan has won back-to-back Big Ten championships and earned berths in the past two College Football Playoffs. It has done so by fitting a blue-collar approach into a flash-and-cash era. The best players get the most playing time and the most endorsement money. Seniors show freshmen how to succeed in the Big Ten and in marketing. Stars look out for the lesser-known. The offense is built around a power run game, players routinely outperform their recruiting rankings and, while individuals can make big money, the team still comes first.
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