College football has changed a great deal since Reggie Bush was carrying the ball for the USC Trojans in the early years of the 21st century. The biggest change is likely coming this year when the NCAA officially okays college athletes earning money for their name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights. Several former college stars have come out since the NCAA announced the change to its longtime policy talking about how they wished that had been the case when they played. Now one analyst is singling out Reggie Bush as an example of a player who would have been a very rich man if the NIL rules had been similar to what they will soon be.
Adam Wells of Bleacher Report recently pointed to an interview Navigate CEO A.J. Maestas did with The Athletic‘s Bruce Feldman on the subject. In that interview, Maestas estimated Bush could have made as much as four to six million dollars from marketing opportunities. Feldman did offer a bit of a caveat on those figures in his article.
“There is still much to be sorted out on the NIL front, Maestas says that figure would be based largely on anchor deals Bush could command from apparel, beverage, supplement companies or local businesses like furniture stores. In addition, even though USC is a Nike school, Maestas says, if it’s truly an open market for athletes, Bush could have pitted Adidas vs. Nike for his own deal.”
Maestas’ background reportedly makes him uniquely qualified to understand what Bush would command. His company, Navigate, is a firm that helps its clients determine the “value of their partnerships.”
Maestas told Feldman that companies would have fallen over themselves to sign Bush to a NIL contract. The businessman pointed out shoe and athletic apparel companies especially would have been eager to get Bush to pitch their products.
When the former running back was playing in college, it was entirely against the NCAA rules for players to earn money for anything remotely tied to their athletic exploits. The organization is planning on loosening restrictions so that players still can’t be paid for playing, but they will be able to sign sportsmanship deals and other similar contracts.
When Bush was at USC he was among the best in the game. After splitting carries with running back Lendale White in his freshman and sophomore seasons, he was the featured back in 2005. That year, he ran for more than 1,700 yards and 16 touchdowns while averaging an eye-popping 8.7 yards per carry. He was also a threat through the air as he caught 37 passes for 478 yards and another two touchdowns.