The saying goes “Everything is bigger in Texas.” Well, with a new NIL program set up by Texas nonprofit organization, Horns with Heart, some of the biggest people in Texas will be doing much better financially.
The Horns with Heart program is specifically designed to put the University of Texas out in front of its competition in terms of NIL compensation. In this case, the offensive linemen will be the recipients. The approximately 14-16 Longhorn linemen involved will each receive $50,000 in payment annually starting August 1, 2022. However, one of the co-founders of Horns with Heart, Rob Blair, has stated that he wants these programs to extend to the entirety of Texas football and then eventually all Texas athletics programs in general, but for now, the Longhorn O-linemen will have to do.
While the program cannot afford to pay everyone on the UT roster, they plan on expanding their compensation as soon as possible. The O-linemen’s compensation program is called “The Pancake Factory,” named after the term “pancake block,” which is when an offensive linemen blocks a defensive player into submission and makes them fall flat on their backs. This is not the first crowdfunded positional payment plan for Texas football players though. Blair, along with one other co-founder created the “Burnt Ends” program in September — a program intent on compensating Longhorn tight ends for their time with the team. Texas tight ends will receive four-figure monthly stipends as long as they remain on the roster. It is a flat rate. It doesn’t matter if you’re a benchwarmer or All-SEC/Big 12, you will get your money.
Blair mentioned in his statement to On3 that the University of Oregon is another school that has gotten out in front of the NIL scene and will use crowdfunded nonprofit programs to help recruit the best players in the country. Blair claims that these programs were set up to help Texas win, but he does not expect results. “Getting out at the forefront of [NIL] is the biggest thing for us — making sure Texas is not getting left behind. Regardless of the product on the field, our support for the University of Texas goes well beyond wins and losses.”
So, how is this whole business venture funded? Well, the same way every booster club is funded. Texas fans will pay a monthly fee ($10 minimum according to the Surly Horns website, but can go up to $50 a month for the highest tier), which will go directly to the players themselves. There are hundreds, potentially thousands of Texas fans willing to help the cause. Within three hours after the “Burnt Ends” program launched, over 250 fans had already signed up. Even if each fan signed up for the $10 a month, minimum payment option, that’s still $2,500 a month going toward Texas tight ends. Seeing as how there are seven tight ends on Texas’s 2021 football roster, there was still a long way to go before the program was able to confidently fulfill its four-figure stipend a month promise. Hopefully, it has reached that level in the three months since its launch.
But why the tight ends and offensive linemen? Obviously, having an edge in the recruitment processes for those positions will help the team out tremendously, but wouldn’t these Texas fans want to go for star quarterbacks, halfbacks, and linebackers first before moving to the “less glamorous” positions? According to Blair, that’s part of the reason they decided to go with the tight ends and offensive linemen. While the team’s star halfback is obviously “going to get taken care of,” financially speaking, “the fourth-string tight end who’s receiving nothing is who we need to take care of. It was too easy of an idea.”
The quarterbacks and wide receivers that score the touchdowns are obviously going to get tons of NIL offers while playing for the biggest college football brand in America. However, it’s the hogs up front that make or break the team, so offering them an incentive to play for Texas just makes sense from a fan’s perspective.
Who knows? If enough Texas fans get wind of this, they could have a huge pool of monthly money to give out to really help the university’s athletics program flourish. Maybe if celebrity Texas alum Matthew McConaughey hears of these programs, he could donate a Lincoln or two to help the cause. I’m sure Texas fans and athletes would find any donations he offers to be…alright, alright, alright. I’m sorry. I had to.