Ole Miss Head Coach Lane Kiffin Fears Recruiting Will Turn Into A ‘Salary Cap’ Competition

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Mississippi at Baylor
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This offseason, Ole Miss had one of the best signing periods in school history, adding USC quarterback Jaxson Dart and TCU running back Zach Evans in the transfer portal.

Still, Kiffin has feared the transfer portal and NIL could become a problem for schools without the resources to keep these players around.

“It’s basically dealing with different salary caps. Now we have a sport that has completely different salary caps, and some of these schools have, whatever, five to 10 times more than everybody else in what they can pay the players. I know nobody uses those phrases, but that is what it is.”

Ole Miss is ranked 10th in the SEC with their 2022 recruiting class. Kiffin knows it will be impossible to keep up with schools like Alabama or Georgia unless changes are made.

“These kids are 17 and 18 years old. They’re going to go where they’re paid the most. I’m not complaining; it’s just is what is. Wherever there are things created, there’s a lot of times problems people didn’t think about. You just legalized paying players, like people used to cheat.”

Kiffin became the head coach at Ole Miss in 2019 after a three-year stint as Florida Atlantic University’s head coach. Before that, he served as the offensive coordinator at Alabama under head coach Nick Saban, and the head coach at Tennessee, among other jobs.

This offseason, the transfer portal added to the NIL madness, with some top players transferring, including former Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams. Williams transferred to USC to be with the coach that recruited him to Norman, Lincoln Riley.

“Until they figure out how to do this better [transfer portal], you’re going to see a whole other group after spring ball that leaves places. This is an ongoing thing,” says Kiffin.

Parity becomes the number one worry of most fans when they think of paying players. A program like Iowa, despite its success, would never be able to compete with a school like LSU and its financial resources for players. The NCAA will have to step in at some point and regulate these things, but how much oversight becomes overbearing?

“Somehow they’re going to, I bet, try to control NIL because now you’ve got these salary caps at places, giving players millions of dollars before they ever play, and other places not being able to do that, Kiffin told reporters. What would the NFL look like if there were a couple of teams in the NFL where their salary cap was ten times more than everybody else’s salary cap? That’s where we’re headed, so they’re going to have to do something.”

The Ole Miss head coach saw a little bit of that in his conference last offseason. Alabama QB Bryce Young, the 2021 Heisman award winner, had up to $1,000,000 in earnings before the season ever started.

Young was a millionaire without ever starting a game at Alabama.

Even head coach Nick Saban has his issues with how some schools have utilized the NIL. “When we start using name, image and likeness for a kid to come to our school, that’s where I draw the line,” Saban said at the Senior Bowl Summit in Mobile on Tuesday.

“I hear these crazy people on TV who say now you’re doing it above board. We never did it. We never did it. We never cheated to get a player. We never paid players to come to our school,” Saban said.

Big names like Saban and Kiffin speaking out against the current NIL format could go a long way in getting the rules changed.