When news dropped about an NIL collective for USC football to soon be in place, famous college football writer Stewart Mandel (The Athletic) suggested that this could potentially be due to Malachi Nelson potentially flirting with Texas A&M, as he took an unofficial visit there this past weekend. It is true that the timing is wild as far as that front is concerned.
Look--it's fair for Mandel to question the timing of this. USC has been rather slow on the collective front so far in the age of NIL, and has lost multiple five-star offensive linemen they were predicted to land to schools with mega collectives this offseason (Josh Conerly Jr--Oregon, and Francis Mauigoa--Miami).
Now with news that Nelson took an unexpected unofficial visit to TAMU, Mandel feels like USC boosters potentially have just had enough of top recruits going elsewhere for strong NIL collectives. After all, A&M has arguably the very best one.
For a school in USC that has not been quick on the collective front, and would rather just go with BLVD as their approach to NIL, the timing very well can be noteworthy. That being said, it still is unwise to jump to the conclusion that this situation is related to Nelson.
There are many other factors that could lead to USC football boosters starting an NIL collective other than Malachi Nelson.
Other than the Malachi Nelson possibility, USC football could have come out with an NIL collective for plenty of other reasons. Perhaps USC is finally willing to get with the times and go the distance they need to in order to recruit in the NIL era. SC can't keep losing out on big fish to NIL opportunities, and that was VERY apparent before it was known that Nelson had any interest in Texas A&M at all.
USC also could have understandably found a way to pay players a base salary, which could be important to them in general. Heck, that's not common, and provides players to get the money they deserve to work hard for the school. These boosters love this team, and love the players.
Also, who's to say this collective hadn't been in the works for a long time? Establishing a collective that pays every football player a base salary isn't easy, so when it's talked about, it's important to understand that it's very likely that it took a long time to get it up and running.
Also, maybe USC just decided they want an NIL collective because...it's good and legal to do so, and there's no reason not to have one. It's also important to remember that collectives aren't created by the school, but boosters.
So, if the school is worried about losing Nelson to the Aggies, they can't do anything about that themselves in efforts to create NIL opportunities here. The teams themselves can't give out NIL money, and can't start collectives.
It's fair to question the timing and context of when and why USC is forming this collective, but it's not enough evidence to suggest that USC is on the verge of losing Nelson. There are plenty of reasons to establish an NIL collective, and to establish one as soon as possible.