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Lane Kiffin says the right things, raises the right questions about NIL

Former Raiders coach Lane Kiffin has spent his entire career following his two-year stint in Oakland at the college level. And the game at the college level has changed dramatically since last July, thanks to name, image, and likeness money.

At a time when some SEC coaches (like Nick Saban) have chosen to whine about the new NIL reality, Kiffin is pragmatic.

“I’m sure other people have said it,” Kiffin said Tuesday, “I said it day one, you legalized cheating, so get ready for the people that have the most money to get the best players and there you have it.”

He’s right. Boosters who used to slip hundred-dollar bills into the palms of players can now just give it to them. Schools have set up funds that distribute cash to all players, like a salary.

However it goes, those that can give the most money will be in position to get the best players. And those schools will be the most valuable to the super conferences like the SEC and the Big 10-going-on-40.

“This was not thought out at all,” Kiffin said, “and has created a massive set of issues, which I think when most people thought about it from a coaches’ standpoint, could’ve predicted this was gonna happen.”

Kiffin also is concerned about the fact that the boosters who pay for certain players to come to a given school will want those players to play, even if they’re not the best option. That will result in some boosters making their concerns known directly to the coaches, lobbying for the NIL investment to have a chance to generate a return — or at least to justify the payments that were made.

That’s how it will go. That’s just how it is. It’s chaos. And it’s the chaos that college football deserves, given that the industry spent so many years not only refusing to pay players directly but also refusing to let them make anything on the side. Decades of exploitation have exploded in their faces, and this messy reckoning is long overdue.