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Arms Race: Jim Harbaugh believes Michigan can double Ohio State’s NIL money

It’s a new era of college football and NIL revenue matters.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

“Transformational, not transactional.”

That’s something Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has said more than once this offseason in regard to the new collegiate landscape in the NIL (name, image, likeness) era where players can actually make a profit.

However, there are still dollars and cents to the equation, some universities, brands if you will, can offer more to a student-athlete than other programs. This is where things get interesting.

Earlier this summer Ryan Day set the bar at $13 million for Ohio State to keep their roster intact — the money comes from outside collectives and their new brand ambassador program. Michigan has similar constructs that can offer the same money, or more, according to Harbaugh at Big Ten Media Day on Tuesday.

“My thoughts were I think we can do more,” Harbaugh said. “Maybe we can even double that at Michigan. I think that’s possible. And I think it’s going in a terrific direction that way.”

Harbaugh’s message has been one that has some fine-print to it — he believes Michigan can create these NIL opportunities for players without doing anything shady or unethical.

“We’re not going to pay signing bonuses for players to come onto the team. We’re not going to pay recruits to sign here,” Harbaugh said in June. “When they get here and they do well, they’re going to profit pretty good here off of the jersey sales and other examples.”

Another area in which Harbaugh and Day differ are how both came to their monetary figures in the NIL realm. Day actually got in touch with boosters and told them the program will need $13 million, those are conversations Harbaugh likely won’t have with boosters, he won’t put a concrete figure on what Michigan needs, he simply feels Michigan has more to offer via NIL than the Buckeyes.

“Some are making it sound like the coach is making a salary cap or something, the one that is writing the checks,” Harbaugh said in June. “That’s not what it’s designed for. This is designed for players to profit off their name, image and likeness. Period.”

The battle between Michigan and Ohio State is something that is lived year round by the program and fans alike, and now the battlefield has expanded to other areas, and NIL is a big battlefield. Welcome to the new college football arms race.