Lane Kiffin will keep things ‘real’ regarding NIL issues

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin has been at the center of the NIL and transfer portal tempest. (Kevin C. Cox/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin has been at the center of the NIL and transfer portal tempest. (Kevin C. Cox/TNS)

Credit: TNS

DESTIN, Fla. — The SEC coaches huddled behind closed doors at the league’s spring meetings in “pretty normal” fashion, according to Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin.

“Our group is more professional in the room than they are when they’re on camera by themselves,” Kiffin said.

ExploreGeorgia’s Kirby Smart offers take on Saban-Fisher feud at SEC spring meetings

Kiffin’s off-the-cuff nature, on the other hand, has been consistent.

This, even as Kiffin has been at the center of the NIL and transfer-portal tempest, fanning flames on the unintended consequence of pay-for-play that coaches believe is corrupting college football.

The verbal spat that erupted between Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher some two weeks ago led to a captive audience for the start of the SEC meetings Tuesday, which notably included only four of the same coaches who held their current jobs the last time the group met in person three years ago.

“Our group is more professional in the room than they are when they're on camera by themselves."

- Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin, on the SEC football coaches

LSU coach Brian Kelly, one of the 10 new coaches who has joined the 14-team league in the past three years, observed that the Fisher-Saban spat probably “made for good coverage in the media.”

But Kelly, like Kiffin, indicated it was an orderly first day of meetings.

“They weren’t wrestling in there, I can tell you that,” the former Notre Dame coach said with a smile.

Kiffin completed the order of coaches to go behind the podium Tuesday — Fisher is scheduled to go Wednesday afternoon — sharing that he’ll continue to keep things “real” where NIL discussions are concerned.

“This is what it is, as opposed to hiding behind all of it and saying whatever that little coaches’ bible that we’re supposed to follow about what you’re supposed to say,” Kiffin said.

“Like, NIL has nothing to do with why players come to my campus. I’m not going to say those things.”

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey indicated he was pleased with the first day of meetings, noting that this is Fisher’s year rotating in as chairman of the coaches.

“He was very engaged,” Sankey said. “What I said at the beginning (of the meeting) was we need to have 14 football coaches focused and engaged in the conversation.

“Nobody can run silent on me.”

There will be plenty more for the coaches, athletic directors and presidents to talk about – and vote on – before the meetings conclude Friday. Sankey said there could be votes on a new schedule formation and league alignment – the SEC is considering eliminating divisions – by the end of the week.