If there ever was a topic that has drawn the college football world into deep discussion about the future of the sport, it would be Name, Image, Likeness. The NIL landscape is changing the game when it comes to college football and some coaches still don’t want to act like it isn’t a reason why young athletes are choosing certain schools. This isn’t and won’t be the case for Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin.
We have all seen the reports of a 2023 prospect that has signed a $7-8 Million NIL deal over the last few weeks, if you haven’t then you’ve probably been stuck on an island. Coaches around the country have been quietly talking about this type of deal being made and what it will do for the future of the game and the money being negotiated.
There was also the whole Jimbo Fisher signing day press conference, where he made it out like NIL had no bearing on his 2022 signing class, which is laughable. This came after Lane Kiffin jokingly said the Aggies would incur a luxury tax for how much they paid for their signing class. Jimbo wasn’t happy, deciding to go after Lane for his comments, acting like NIL was non-existent in College Station.
“To have coaches in our league and across this league to say it, clown acts, irresponsible as hell. Multiple coaches in our league. And the guys griping about NIL and transfer portal are using it the most and bragging about it the most. That’s the ironic part. … It’s a joke. It does piss me off.”
Fisher then went on to say that NIL isn’t used in their recruiting tactics or overall strategy.
“We don’t control the NIL,” he said. “We don’t do that. That’s outside forces, outside funds.”
OK, but Fisher knows exactly how much a player makes and if anyone doesn’t believe that, then you definitely don’t have a grip on where college football is heading. In talking with multiple assistant coaches in the power-five level over the last month, the general consensus was that the coaches need to know what’s going on with potential earnings, because every other staff in college football is using it against each other.
This is why I will never fault Lane Kiffin for talking about it so openly, because he’s speaking the truth. By the way, the truth is not bad, it’s just how the college football world operates right now. On Tuesday, Kiffin was asked about the report on the $8 Million NIL deal that has been reported on over the last few weeks, while also taking aim at Jimbo Fisher for his comments, calling him a clown.
“Yea, I’ve obviously said a lot about NIL from the beginning of it, to make sure we understand, I love that the players are getting paid and I just say how it is. So, I guess I got called a clown before for saying how it is. NIL has a lot to do with where players go. To not think that, it’s crazy. I mean it would literally be like a head coach in the NFL signing a great free-agency class of signing guys, going out getting these great players and then coming up here and saying that the contracts had nothing to do with why the players came here, they just wanted to come play for me.
“So, obviously it has a lot to do with where players go, and it should,” Kiffin added. “I mean there are 17-18 year old kids, adults choose jobs a lot of times for money or salary, so why would the kid not?”
Some of these coaches have got to stop acting like this is not the new normal in college football, just embrace it. There aren’t many rules revolving around the NIL and let’s please not act like this wasn’t going on before this past summer. You’re Free! Collectives around your program can now negotiate deals with high school athletes to entice them to sign with your school.
I know it’s a bit different than dropping off a bag at the athlete’s high school, meeting up at a local establishment to make the payment or sending the kid home with some extra baggage after an official visit. But some coaches have got to stop acting like this isn’t going on and just embrace the fact that they don’t have to worry about getting caught by the NCAA for dropping $30K for a player to take a visit.
Most coaches have talked about and embraced the new reality, just like Lane Kiffin keeps discussing. I see no harm in bringing up the topic or talking about it freely. Sometime down the road there will be some type of regulations put on NIL. But for now, coaches should enjoy the freedom and the athletes that decide to take your outside group up on the offer.