Lane Kiffin Destroys NIL And ‘Legalized Cheating,’ But Still Has To Play The Game Until It’s Fixed

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NASHVILLE, TN- On the final day of SEC Media Days, Lane Kiffin decided to use his platform to do something that nobody else had done this week: put NIL on blast, while accepting the process. You might not like how Kiffin delivers his message, but once again, he’s not afraid to call out the game in which he participates.

It’s been over two years since NIL was first introduced and the college football world is still trying to decide how they feel about the process. Most coaches are sick and tired of getting into bidding wars that play out in the public space or the transfer portal, while some are just along for the ride. Now, you can add Lane Kiffin who has taken his seat on this rollercoaster and is just going through the motions.

There’s not a good way to define what’s going on in college sports right now with NIL contracts and players using the transfer portal as a bargaining tool. But the term ‘chaotic’ would be the best way to describe the current state.

“When this first came out, basically said, whatever programs have the most aggressive boosters with the most money are going to get the players,” Lane Kiffin noted. “And now we are adding some states that you don’t have to follow the NCAA, and now the university can take their money and give it to the collective to give it to the players.”

He’s not wrong, we are currently experiencing a different type of college athletics, where the threat of entering the portal is one of the best marketing tools in the business. It’s not a question of whether the coaches can stomach the process, it’s about how they deal with it on a daily basis.

Ole Miss Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin during Southeastern Conference Football Kickoff Media Day. (Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

How Can College Football Fix The Problem? Not Many Know The Answer

If you want a player bad enough, you’re gonna have to pay, at least in the eyes of Kiffin. What was once a good thing for college football -the transfer portal- has changed the aspects of recruiting. A kid will come out of high school looking for the best opportunity, but has a chance to change his mind after a year on campus. So, Lane Kiffin points out the player actually can take advantage of three different negotiating periods.

“Now we are seeing you really can get paid three times if you want to,” Kiffin noted. “You can get paid coming out of high school. You can one-time transfer, go in, get the most money and get paid again. And then you can grad transfer and then get paid again. Eventually you’ll not be able to do that, I would think, and have that leverage every semester to be able to do that. I’ve told them it’s an awesome time for them.”

Is this the best strategy for the NCAA and college football? No, but this problem lays at the feet of NCAA officials and its quick reaction to not release guidelines on NIL. I wouldn’t expect congress to swoop-in and save the day either, that’s going to take time. So, coaches have to play the hand their dealt, even if it all drives them mad.

NIL Has Obviously Turned Into Public ‘Play For Play’

The regular college football fan knows that NIL has turned into a pay-for-play system, but most coaches won’t speak publicly about it, Lane Kiffin is not one of those guys, because he knows the two-way street of the transfer portal and NIL, guardrails are hard to come by.

“With NIL, you’ve got a lot of pay-for-play going on and that is what it is,” Kiffin pointed out, again. “Those two things combining, there’s not a system in place. I don’t think there’s any other sports at any level that are like this, that really, you every year, can opt into free agency. Really, twice a year.”

There are certainly different ways each school will go about their recruiting and how involved their collective is. Some don’t want to spend money on every big recruit on the market, and they can’t. Now, schools are having to be selective on how much money they can spend on a player. Which is wild to think about, just two years into NIL.

But make no mistake, Lane Kiffin is playing the game really well, but he also knew this was going to be a problem when first introduced.

“This is a disaster coming because you just legalized cheating and you just told donors they can pay the players is what you did.”

You can hate on Kiffin all you want, knowing he takes advantage of the system as well, but at least he’s not trying to sell you on a lie.

Written by Trey Wallace

Trey Wallace is the host of The Trey Wallace Podcast that focuses on a mixture of sports, culture, entertainment along with his perspective on everything from College Football to the College World Series.

Wallace has been covering college sports for 15 years, starting off while attending the University of South Alabama. He’s broken some of the biggest college stories including the Florida football “Credit Card Scandal” along with the firing of Jim McElwin and Kevin Sumlin. Wallace also broke one of the biggest stories in college football in 2020 around the NCAA investigation into recruiting violations against Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Wallace also appears on radio across seven different states breaking down that latest news in college sports.

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