NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin didn’t wait for questions on the impact of the transfer portal and name, image and likeness deals at SEC media days on Thursday. Instead, he addressed both topics during his opening statement, calling the current state of college football a “disaster.”
Kiffin prefaced his comments by saying he’s happy that players can get paid but said the unintended consequence of NIL is a “pay-for-play” system where players follow the money and the teams with the deepest pockets get the best talent.
With the transfer portal, Kiffin said, “free agency” now exists — except that, unlike professional sports, every college player can enter into free agency twice a year with the spring and winter transfer windows.
Said Kiffin: “We’ve got professional sports,” except with no salary cap or luxury tax, and the result is myriad “issues” for coaches.
“And I’m not complaining about it ’cause we take advantage, obviously, of free agency,” he added.
Ole Miss has been among the most active teams in the country in the transfer portal. At quarterback, the Rebs returned former USC transfer Jaxson Dart, who threw for nearly 2,000 yards last season, and added a pair of transfers in former All-Big 12 selection Spencer Sanders from Oklahoma State and former five-star prospect Walker Howard.
Between transfers and high school recruits, Kiffin tallied 40 new scholarship players on the roster this summer.
“That’s the world we live in,” Kiffin said. “But at the same time, I don’t think that’s really good for college football. These massive overhauls of rosters every year really is not in the best interest of college football.
“There’s kind of your state of union on the situation of what all coaches are dealing with around the country — really, a poor system that isn’t getting better and now is going to get worse. Because again, now we just look at recruiting rankings and you’re going to see that they’re usually going to follow this donor base and what schools are going to decide to give the most money to the players. So it is what it is. We’ll deal with it like we do with everything else, but somehow it’s got to get fixed because there’s no system around it.”
Kiffin and his staff have nonetheless navigated the system well, earning three straight bowl appearances while going 23-13 in three seasons in Oxford.
Ole Miss, which opens the season at home against Mercer on Sept. 2, returns one of the top running backs in the country in sophomore Quinshon Judkins, who led the SEC with 1,567 rushing yards last season.