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Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin laments changes brought on by transfer portal: ‘We have free agency in college football’

College football has changed quite a bit over the last handful of years since the institution of the transfer portal in 2018. And now, the addition of NIL has further complicated the recruiting process, as Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin recently explained.

Kiffin lamented some of the changes to college football in a recent interview with the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger. He said that the changes are beginning to resemble something that looks a lot like free agency.

“I don’t think people really say it this way, but let’s not make a mistake: We have free agency in college football,” Kiffin said. “The kids a lot of times go to where they’re going to get paid the most. No one else is saying that, maybe. But the kids say ‘This is what I’m getting here from NIL.’ “

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Kiffin isn’t saying it’s bad that players are getting paid. He just thinks that the changes, which are meant to help players, may not necessarily do exactly that. Why? Because teams aren’t obligated to keep their recruiting promises to players.

Teams can promise extra playing time. They can give an estimated NIL figure. But there is also no fault for coaches or programs that fail to deliver on those promises.

“At least in the NFL there’s free-agent contracts so they know what it is and they have to sign it, versus places saying, ‘Hey, when you come here you’re going to get this much money,’ and then when they get there, do they really get it?” Kiffin said. “It’s a new world.”

Indeed, it is a new world. Need proof? Just look at some of the major quarterback names in the transfer portal. Spencer Rattler, Bo Nix, Kedon Slovis, the list goes on.

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Between the NIL rules and the NCAA’s new rule that allows players one free transfer — players previously had to sit out a year when transferring, a rule meant to discourage transfers — there is a lot more player movement and a financial element for players to consider when moving.

However, Kiffin noted that the glut of transfers has negatively impacted the opportunity for some of the lower-rung players, as scholarships aren’t as readily available for unproven talents.

“Getting out on the road, there’s a lot of frustration with junior college coaches and high school coaches because they feel like kids that were in the bottom level of getting offers and going places at the bottom of classes now aren’t,” Kiffin said. “People are using them up on transfers. So now we’ve got high school kids with nowhere to go when they had places.”

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And Kiffin also noted that some players are taking chances in the transfer portal and are giving up scholarships for greener pastures and promises of more playing time that aren’t always delivered. He’s hoping to see that change as the NCAA and its member institutions adjust to the new rules.

“There are just a lot of things happening from what was initially a really good idea to help the kids,” Kiffin said.

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