Dan Mullen zinged Lane Kiffin this week with a funny “Joey Freshwater” line.
Last week, SEC Network host Peter Burns tweeted his rankings for SEC football coaches he’d most want to visit Las Vegas with. Burns had Kiffin listed at No. 1 and Mullen at No. 5. Mullen responded via Twitter, saying he thought he “should be higher.”
Fast forward to this week, and Mullen spoke with the media ahead of his Florida Gators’ Orange Bowl game against Virginia. He once again mentioned Burns’ Vegas list. And that’s when he brought up the Kiffin zinger.
“There was the rating system they put out the other day, people they would go to Vegas with him over me, I think I’m a good-time guy though,” Mullen said Monday, via Saturday Down South. “I have a lot of fun, too. I’m obviously not — what is he? — I may not be Joey Freshwater fun.”
Whatever the case, Mullen bringing up that reference when talking about the Las Vegas rankings is hilarious. These coaches may say they don’t pay attention to this stuff, but some of them obviously do. And we love them for it.
Anyone who follows Lane Kiffin on Twitter could tell you that the coach holds a grudge against Nick Saban because of the way Saban parted ways with him at Alabama, and that is one of the many reasons Kiffin being hired as the head coach at Ole Miss will make for some outstanding storylines. It was also apparently a driving force behind Kiffin wanting the job.
Aaron Suttles of The Athletic reports that multiple people with knowledge of Kiffin’s thinking told him Kiffin is looking to exact revenge on Saban, and one of the ways he is trying to do that is by poaching members of Saban’s staff. Kiffin is said to be looking to build out his Ole Miss staff with as many current, former and potential Alabama coaches as possible, and he has already extended some offers.
According to Suttles, Kiffin has tried to entice Alabama strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran to join him in Oxford by offering him an on-the-field coaching position. Cochran is a big part of recruiting at Alabama, and he has been on Saban’s staff for all six of his national championships, including when he worked under the head coach at LSU.
Kiffin has also reportedly expressed interest in Alabama defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi, secondary coach Karl Scott, and former defensive line coach Bo Davis, who stepped down from his position with the Tide more than three years ago amid allegations of recruiting violations.
Some have wondered why Kiffin would take a job in the SEC rather than joining a Power Five conference where he might have an easier time winning, but it’s really no surprise that he’s motivated to take down Saban. Kiffin has praised Saban publicly, but he also never passes up an opportunity to take a shot at him on social media. Saban basically fired Kiffin as his offensive coordinator days before the national title game three years ago, though it was framed like Kiffin was leaving to focus on his new job as the head coach at FAU.
The college coaching carousel is still moving, but many of the bigger hires have already been sorted out. The likes of Florida State and Ole Miss have new coaches, and they’re going to have to hit the ground running to assemble recruiting classes, put together a staff, and start implementing their vision.
So which of the coaching hires so far look to be the best on paper? Here are five big standouts now that the hires have started.
5. Jeff Scott, USF
The best hire of an assistant coach so far this offseason, Scott is more than ready to be a college head coach. A long-time Clemson assistant, he’s served as co-offensive coordinator on Dabo Swinney’s staff. Importantly, he has been a key recruiter for Clemson and has ties to the state of Florida, which should help him immediately. That experience and background in recruiting is massive for a first-time coach, and it should allow him to attract good talent early on to USF. That could lead to a very quick turnaround.
Lane Kiffin got a hero’s welcome upon arriving at Ole Miss as the new head football coach, and he had a pretty fantastic response to that.
Kiffin greeted fans after arriving in Oxford on Sunday night, kissing babies and interacting with Ole Miss faithful. The reception was overwhelmingly positive, and when asked about it Monday, Kiffin cracked an absolutely killer one-liner.
Lane Kiffin asked about his reception at Ole Miss and kissing babies at the airport after arriving there: "It's a lot better than another tarmac experience that I had."
For those who may not remember, Kiffin was infamously fired by USC in an airport terminal after being pulled off the team bus. Over six years later, it’s still one of the most memorable episodes of Kiffin’s coaching career, albeit for all the wrong reasons. Kiffin is over it enough to have made light of it in the past, but this is a whole new level of funny.
Ole Miss fans, the Lane Train is heading to Oxford! Jump aboard by buying the Lane Train shirt! It’s available in two colors:
Lane Kiffin received a hero’s welcome when his plane touched down in Oxford on Sunday night, and Ole Miss fans are already offering valuable advice for their team’s new head coach.
Just after he stepped off his private jet, Kiffin interacted with some Rebels fans and was even kind enough to pose for a photo with someone’s baby. The same fan who passed the baby over to Kiffin then urged the coach to “get you a burner phone.”
As many of you know, the fan was likely making a reference to how former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze got caught. Freeze resigned over two years ago after an examination of his phone records revealed that he made calls to escort-type services while on recruiting trips. That resulted in major sanctions and a two-year postseason ban for the Rebels.
In other words, the fan who spoke to Kiffin on Sunday doesn’t care what the coach does to win football games at Ole Miss — he just doesn’t want him to get caught. He’s probably not the only one who feels that way.
Lane Kiffin was refusing to talk about Ole Miss right up until the last moment before his hiring was made official.
The Florida Atlantic coach led his team to a blowout 49-6 win in the Conference USA title game on Saturday. During the postgame celebration, Kiffin was asked if he’d just coached his final games with the Owls. Kiffin refused to answer the question, shifting the attention back to the school and players.
Kiffin obviously knew the answer — the deal was essentially done as of Friday, and Ole Miss was merely waiting for Kiffin to coach in the C-USA title game to announce it. It’s an awkward and uncomfortable spot to be in, and he obviously wasn’t going to go in depth on the situation on a stage with his celebrating players. It’s still a rather strange note for Kiffin’s FAU career to end on, though.
Lane Kiffin to Ole Miss looks like it is happening.
Rivals reporter Neal McCready reported on Friday night that Kiffin will be Ole Miss’ next head football coach, though a deal is not officially signed. He says Kiffin will arrive in Oxford on Sunday, a day after FAU’s conference championship game, and be announced as their head coach on Monday.
It's not officially signed, but it's done. Lane Kiffin is Ole Miss' next head football coach. He'll arrive in Oxford Sunday. I expect the Ole Miss band to meet him there. He'll be announced officially on Monday, likely at the Pavilion at Ole Miss. @RivalsChase.
Kiffin is in his third season at Florida Atlantic and has coached them to the Conference USA Championship Game twice.
Kiffin taking this job makes me wonder what he is thinking. He will have to compete with Nick Saban at Alabama, Ed Orgeron at LSU, Gus Malzahn at Auburn, and Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M. He could not have picked a more difficult division.
So why did he do it?
Kiffin has never really done the rational thing during his career. He got into it with Al Davis in Oakland and was quickly fired; left Tennessee after just one season; took over at USC while they were under sanction; and couldn’t resist taking a shot a Alabama while their offensive coordinator, which led to his premature ouster.
He seems to revel in being a boat-rocker more than a consistent winner. He probably just has a burning desire to be needle Saban as much as possible and to get a chance to beat him every year. That was probably more appealing for Kiffin than to actually go to a program where he would have a good chance a long-term success.