Ole Miss HC Lane Kiffin on NIL: ‘We are a professional sport’

Lane Kiffin has never been one to hold his opinions close to the vest, and the same can be said for his stances on name, image and likeness legislation in college athletics.

Kiffin recently spoke with Ross Dellenger from Sports Illustrated to discuss the state of college athletics around NIL, recruiting and boosters, and his diagnosis was clear: “We’re a professional sport, and these are professional players.”

Kiffin Way 5
Lane Kiffin

Dellenger’s story is formatted in a question-and-answer format, but one Kiffin point stood out among the rest – he sees NIL as not only widening the gap between the Power Five and the Five Eyes, but between the Power Five schools themselves.

SI: How does that widen the gap in college football, not just between the Power 5 and Five-a-side, but within the Power 5, right?

LK: I put it in my head in three levels. Here are your 8-10 teams (in the top tier). This is no different from what is happening. How much money they invested in recruiting, how much money they invested in facilities. All that. It’s just a different way, but it’s more important than all that. It used to be OK These guys had the most in the assistant coach pool so they could hire the best assistant coaches! Or they spent more on facilities!

Then you have about 8-25 schools in the next tier. I spoke to a coach the other day in this group, and he was asking about his player in the portal. I explain to him, and he doesn’t care at all because there is no NIL at his level. I was like, ‘God, this must be so refreshing – he’s just recruiting.’ Now there are problems. The player will get caught. But it’s almost a return to the purity of the game like high school football. As you go up, there is less purity.

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I think you have three levels that are going to be really separate. People there (25-130), they don’t have money to give players. And then you have the middle ground (8-25), then you have the elites (top 8-10).

In the recruitment process [with the elite ones]coaches can’t tell rookies, but anyone who talks to [recruits], they say, ‘Just know that you’ll get more here than anywhere else! Whatever you come back, you will get 20% more here. These people are going to have the best players.

I can recruit much better than you or you can recruit me, but ultimately your school offers more money or mine, and ultimately that’s where they go. I could have worked hard for three years, and you could have done three minutes. There was a player who went to a school that we got beat up against, and I asked him about the relationship with the head coach. He had never spoken to her. NIL.

Kiffin recently gave his take on Twitter regarding the public spat between Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban over NIL, and one thing is for sure: the rebel coach sees it changing the landscape of college athletics for years to come.

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Sara R. Cicero