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#pounditSunday, September 24, 2023

Lane Kiffin offers solution to growing NIL problem

Sep 18, 2021; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels head coach Lane Kiffen at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Lane Kiffin agrees with Nick Saban that the NCAA’s new Name, Image and Likeness rules have resulted in programs buying their recruiting classes, but he does not necessarily think that is a bad thing. There is one significant change Kiffin feels the system needs, however.

Kiffin discussed the current state of college football during a lengthy interview with Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger. He said college football is a “professional sport” now and boosters essentially act as team owners. The way Kiffin and many others see it, the top programs in the country have always had more resources than those below them. Those resources were previously used for things like facilities and coaches’ salaries. Now, some of that money can be used to pay top recruits.

Unlike Saban, Kiffin does not think that should stop. He believes players deserve to be paid and that better players should get more money than their peers with less talent. He also thinks college football needs the equivalent of a salary cap.

“The thing that seems simple is there’s a cap. How are we not a professional sport?” Kiffin asked. “What is the difference? [Players] are making money. They can opt into free agency. We’re a professional sport, and they are professional players. Contracted employees without contracts. They can get out whenever they want.”

Without a cap, Kiffin believes the top players in college football will operate the same way NFL players would if they could test free agency every year.

“Let’s be realistic, in professional sports, if you are the agent of a player, and the player can opt into free agency and come back to where they want after testing the waters, who says, ‘No, I’m not going to do that,’ unless there’s a penalty?” Kiffin said.

Saban made headlines last week when he called out Texas A&M for paying recruits. That is not technically legal, though many schools are now able to help facilitate NIL deals for incoming players, which is essentially the same thing.

Saban is against all that. Many will say that is a convenient stance for a coach whose program has more resources than almost any in the country. Kiffin even made that point with the latest shot he took at Saban.

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