College football is rapidly changing thanks to new NIL rules that allow players to profit from their name, image, and likeness.

Players are essentially being paid publicly to commit, sign, and/or transfer.

What used to be college football’s dirty little secret is now a public bidding war that is seeing some players rake in significant amounts of cash.

For example, it’s been rumored that 2023 Tennessee Vols commit Nico Iamaleava, a five-star quarterback from California, was paid $8 million to commit to UT.

Those rumors haven’t been confirmed, but there’s some pretty strong evidence that Nico is the $8 million man that The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel wrote about in March.

This new world of NIL deals can obviously present some unique challenges. Ole Miss Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin suggested recently that some programs — he mentioned Tennessee specifically — could have locker room issues because of certain players receiving big NIL deals.

Kiffin could end up being right — I’m sure there will be a dispute or two at some programs (though I don’t think singling out the Vols is fair).

However, there are some positives for college football programs — beyond landing elite talent — that come along with the new NIL rules.

Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel mentioned this week during an appearance on the “Bussin with the Boys” podcast that because of the new NIL rules he’s dealing with fewer discipline issues than ever before.

“One of the great things about NIL is it forces kids to understand that they have a brand and an image and the choices that they make while transitioning into college football have a huge impact on their future and potential earning power,” said Heupel.

“The issues that maybe I’ve had to deal with previously as a head coach, man, very few of those things are showing up right now,” added Heupel. “Because they are so understanding and have a global view of what they’re trying to accomplish. It changes the mindset. It changes the opportunities.”

It’s refreshing to hear Heupel talk about the positives with NIL deals instead of taking a negative approach like other head coaches have (such as Kiffin, Nick Saban, and Dabo Swinney).

Heupel understands that NIL deals are the future of college football. And instead of fighting against it, he might as well embrace it.

So far, it certainly appears that Heupel and the Vols are completely on board with everything that comes along with this new world of college football players legally earning money off their name, image and likeness.

Featured image via Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK