Kiffin: College football is 'a professional sport'

Michael Chang / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin believes that college football has grown into a professional sport.

"We're a professional sport, and they are professional players," Kiffin told Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated. "They can get out whenever they want. And how is it not being seen that, unless there are changes of rules around caps and contracts, how is every elite college player not at the end of their season (entering the portal)?"

Kiffin's comments come a week after Alabama coach Nick Saban alleged that Texas A&M was essentially buying players using name, image, and likeness deals. Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher refuted Saban's claims a day later, and the Crimson Tide coach apologized.

Kiffin said that 100% of high school prospects are choosing colleges based on NIL guarantees. "It's totally changed recruiting," he said.

The Ole Miss coach suggested "the thing that seems simple" would be some kind of salary-cap system.

The former Oakland Raiders coach doesn't blame recruits for wanting to earn a guaranteed income, noting that college athletes are usually three to four years from getting paid in the NFL or not making the league at all.

"Players should get paid. They do the work. Why that should be limited to a scholarship check, I disagree with," Kiffin said. "And they shouldn't be (paid) all equal. That's not what happens in the real world. ... There's just not a system. It was 'OK, open it up!' No system behind it."

Kiffin assessed the current structure as sustainable: "If there's something big-money people are motivated to do, they do." However, he does envision situations where boosters basically become team owners and influence coaching decisions.

He also said that NIL will allow schools such as Alabama to win more titles rather than creating parity, convincing him that Saban will never retire.

"Why would he? You get the best players, have free agency to pluck the best players," Kiffin said. "He'll be there forever. He might double his championships."

Kiffin: College football is 'a professional sport'
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