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‘It’s a really poor system’: Lane Kiffin weighs in on spring transfer portal period

Lane Kiffin
Lane Kiffin (Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics)

Rosters across college football will likely be shaken up once more with the spring transfer portal period opening on Tuesday.

For the next two weeks, players will have the chance to leave their current situation and jump ship to another university — though players in the Southeastern Conference (SEC), where Ole Miss and Mississippi State reside, have to abide by a different set of rules as they will not be immediately eligible if they join a program within the conference.

Once a player enters the portal, other programs are free to contact him without penalty. The player can elect to go elsewhere or return to his current school. However, that university would not be required to honor the scholarship the institution had previously given the player.

While the portal (and the emergence of name, image, and likeness deals) has generated more opportunities for student-athletes, one head coach whose program has boded exceptionally well in the portal remains in opposition to the current system.

Colloquially known across the college football world as the “portal king,” Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin has used the system to add players in recent years like starting quarterback Jaxson Dart, All-SEC tight end Caden Prieskorn, star wide receiver Tre Harris, among a laundry list of quality contributors, to his roster. However, he believes the way the portal is operated has college football spiraling toward the danger zone.

“It’s just where we are. Like I’ve said before, it probably sounds weird from me because I think we take advantage and maximize the system that’s in place as well as anybody. It’s benefitted us as well as anybody around the country, but it’s really a poor system,” Kiffin said.

Kiffin’s qualm stems from players already having the chance to hop in the portal during the winter to find a new home. He believes the spring period puts coaches on pins and needles because nothing is stopping a player who just arrived at the beginning of the spring semester from cashing in on an NIL deal at one school, just to bounce for a new program or his previous institution during April’s portal period.

“Here we go again … they just got somewhere in January. They’re leaving again already. So they went and got paid and took up spots — and it’s not their fault. It’s not the players’ fault at all. This is a system that’s been created that they’re utilizing, ” Kiffin added.

Over the winter, Ole Miss used the portal to add multiple players, especially quality defensive ones, to address needs on the roster and make the 2024 team competitive against the most elite programs in the sport.

While Kiffin is confident he is in good standing with his key contributors, nothing is set in place to guarantee that they will honor their end of verbal agreements made with the university or the Grove Collective — the premier Ole Miss-exclusive NIL program — in search of a greener pasture elsewhere.

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