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,” Kiffin said, “than they are when they’re on camera by themselves.”
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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 Spring Meetings, 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.
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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.”
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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 on Tuesday — Fisher is scheduled to go on 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.”
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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 and athletic directors and presidents to talk about — and vote on — before the meetings conclude on 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.