The Ole Miss Rebels made a move that can define their program’s outlook to the nation going forward by hiring the outspoken and controversial Lane Kiffin as head coach. Kiffin comes over after three years at the same position at Florida Atlantic. He had previously revived his coaching career when he was hired to be offensive coordinator of the Alabama Crimson Tide from 2014 to 2016. In late 2016, as the Tide were in the middle of their playoff run, Kiffin accepted the FAU job. He intended to stay as the offensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa through the end of the season. Instead, he was fired just before the 2017 national championship game and replaced by Steve Sarkisian. since then the headlines are often about how “Lane Kiffin stokes rivalry with Nick Saban.”
Lane Kiffin Stokes Rivalry With Nick Saban
Since taking over FAU, Kiffin has become a more vocal coach in public. He often uses his Twitter account to troll other teams around the country. His favorite target is Alabama and his former boss Nick Saban. that matched the volume of the publicity and heat he gets from social media. The Alabama head coach threw Kiffin a coaching lifeline in 2014.That doesn’t mean Kiffin is going to a less vocal at Ole Miss than he was at Florida Atlantic.
Kiffin Looking To Be First Saban Assistant To Beat Him
Off the bat, when Kiffin was hired to be the head coach at Ole Miss, he immediately thought of Saban. When trying to build his Rebels coaching staff, he looked towards Tuscaloosa. There were reports that Kiffin wanted the Tide’s strength and conditioning coach since 2007, Scotty Cochran. He has the fifth-highest salary of all strength and conditioning coaches in the nation. Kiffin has not yet had any success poaching the current Tide staff. He is reportedly bringing his strength and conditioning coach from FAU with him to Oxford. Wilson Love is a former Alabama defensive lineman who played for Saban. He was a graduate assistant on Saban’s staff in 2014 and joined the FAU staff in 2016.
Kiffin has already started his public campaign since being named Ole Miss’ head coach. He says he will be the first former Saban assistant to beat him in a head-to-head game as a head coach. Instead of focusing fully on his team to potentially contend for the SEC Conference title, Kiffin is going to public persona as the early recruiting signing period comes into full focus. Kiffin’s desire need for attention comes back to his constant apprehension of Saban.
He was the most controversial hire by Saban. He faced criticism during his tenure, and was relived right before the national championship game. Saban, during his stints at LSU and Alabama, is 19-0 when facing his former assistants. These coaches include Georgia’s Kirby Smart, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher, Tennessee’s Jeremy Pruitt, and South Carolina’s Will Muschamp. Saban will be facing four of his former assistants next season when the Tide takes on Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee, and Texas A&M.
Kiffin Creating A Culture Of Trolling In The SEC
Being a head coach in the SEC is incredibly difficult in and of itself. It is a “what have you done for me lately” mentality. Coaches who succeed as a coach in the SECMost coaches create a specific brand of culture within their programs. Saban has brought a determined, fierce, and NFL-preparing caliber program at Alabama. Ed Orgeron created a culture of embracing the aggressive Cajun lifestyle at LSU. Kiffin is looking to bring a more vocal and underdog role at Ole Miss. Already in a few short days since being named the head coach at Ole Miss, Kiffin has called out Mississippi State and Alabama.
Kiffin has not been shy to mention the two Alabama losses to Ole Miss in 2014 and 2015. Ironically, he was the offensive coordinator of the Tide in those two losses to the Rebels. Alabama has beaten Ole Miss four straight times including the last season with Kiffin at Alabama. They have been ranked #1 at the time of their game against Ole Miss except for this season. Since Kiffin departed from Alabama, the Tide has scored at least 59 or more points against Ole Miss. This past match-up, the #2 Tide defeated the Rebels with a 59-31 score. There may be a chance that Saban may lose to an assistant one day but the turmoil of this season and trolling from Kiffin will likely just make Saban more determined to keep his foot on the pedal against Ole Miss.