Lane Kiffin isn’t one to shy away from speaking his mind about the current landscape of college athletics. Once we entered into this new world of NIL and College Football, most importantly collectives, how this would be handled in locker rooms has become a hot topic.
Speaking with Sports Illustrated, Kiffin noted that certain donors will expect the player they donated money towards to be playing on a consistent basis. This proclamation isn’t new, though the ways players are making their way onto college campuses is. As NIL started to make its way into college athletics, the question about playing time for a high-priced player was on the minds of many. How much impact would a players worth have on playing time?
These are the type of questions that many college coaches are quietly wondering. Lets just say one player comes in and is being paid a good chunk of money through NIL, but the backup turns out to be the better player and receives more playing time. This scenario will most certainly make its way into the locker room and the donor will most likely raise a fuss about his money not paying off on the field.
So how does Lane Kiffin think this will impact the locker room? He’s already been in a similar situation as coach of the Raiders.
“There are all kinds of issues that are coming. Let’s say reports are true, and some high school quarterback is making $6 to $8 million. How is that going to work? How is he coming into the locker room? Are the coaches going to need to play him, or are donors going to be mad when he’s not playing—the first-round pick that the donor drafts. I’ve been in that situation.
“The people paying that are going to want that guy to play,” Kiffin added. “If he’s not playing, how is the backup quarterback who is earning just a scholarship check going to play over him?”
Kiffin also pointed out that you might have returning players that are good enough to be starters, but aren’t making the type of money a new prospect might be pulling in. This led the Ole Miss head coach to point out the NFL salary cap, pointing out the rookie contracts that were being signed years ago before the league stepped in.
“You’ve got all kinds of issues to come. Professional sports has done it for a long time. They’ve figured it out. Ideally, there should be some type of cap. Different people are making different money, but there’s a reason for it.
“When they really figure it out, incoming guys get less. [The NFL] figured out the cap better in the rookie contracts years ago,” Kiffin noted. “The rookies were making more than the 10-year vets. They’ve fixed that. That’s a major problem [in college]. Right now, you’ve got good players who are returning starters not making anything because people are paying the ones coming in, trying to get them [in NIL bidding wars].”
If you thought Kiffin was going to shy away from what he was truly thinking about the current model, you were sorely mistaken. If there’s one coach who has tried to get his point across over the last four months, it’s Lane.
“People are going to criticize me for saying that “people are paying them to come in” by saying that’s not what is happening. That is exactly what’s happening.”