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."
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 9, 2019
This is going to be amazing.
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.”
Lane Kiffin already kissing babies and being told “get you a burner phone” in Oxford pic.twitter.com/JSZIBL4UuZ
— Pick Your Poison (@pickpoisonpod) December 8, 2019
Welcome back to the SEC, Lane.
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.
Ole Miss fans, the Lane Train is heading to Oxford! Jump aboard by buying the Lane Train shirt!
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.
Lane Kiffin laughed and deflected when he got asked about taking the Ole Miss job. pic.twitter.com/7inpbHfdd9
— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) December 7, 2019
Less than a half hour after that, Ole Miss officially confirmed that Kiffin had been hired as the new coach — with a rather dramatic video.
OFFICIAL | @Lane_Kiffin named head football coach at Ole Miss
— Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) December 7, 2019
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.
— Neal McCready (@NealMcCready) December 7, 2019
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.
Is Lane Kiffin headed for a return to the SEC? One reporter thinks so.
Ole Miss Rivals reporter Neal McCready reported on Friday that Kiffin to Ole Miss is close to a done deal.
Multiple sources telling me tonight Lane Kiffin to Ole Miss is as close to a done deal without being official as is possible. At this point, I expect an announcement Sunday.
— Neal McCready (@NealMcCready) December 7, 2019
Kiffin is in his third season as the head coach at Florida Atlantic. He has helped the Owls achieve success, as they’re playing the conference championship game for the second time in three seasons, and he seems to be enjoying Boca Raton.
Previously considered too toxic for hire due to poor stints in Tennessee, USC and with the Raiders, Kiffin has apparently rebuilt his brand well enough to the point that two SEC programs have had interest in him.
Kiffin also has talked with Arkansas.
Even though this report says it’s close to a done deal, don’t assume that Arkansas won’t get back in the mix, or that Kiffin won’t somehow reach a deal to remain at FAU.
The SEC West is the toughest division in college football, and taking over at Ole Miss or Arkansas while having to compete against LSU, Alabama, Auburn and even Texas A&M is almost setting one’s self up for failure. But Kiffin’s never been one to make a measured career move.
Lane Kiffin has been heavily linked to the Arkansas head coaching vacancy, and there are some who believe he would welcome the opportunity to coach in the SEC again. However, it is also possible that Kiffin will take advantage of all the speculation and parlay it into a raise from his current employer.
Doug Samuels of Football Scoop reports that Florida Atlantic is preparing an offer that would entice Kiffin to remain with the Owls. While there is still a chance Kiffin could end up at Arkansas, he could opt for remaining at FAU with a higher salary over taking on the difficult task of trying to rebuild with the Razorbacks.
FAU signed Kiffin to an extension through 2027 after he led the team to a Conference USA championship in his first season on the job two years ago. They also loaned him $2 million to purchase a home, and he would have to repay that loan if he leaves the school before 2021.
Kiffin’s interest in the Arkansas job may be legitimate, but he has a good situation at FAU and may simply be trying to take advantage so he can get more money. He has already denied wanting to be considered for another high-profile job, and trying to keep pace with Alabama and Auburn in the SEC West could prove to be an insurmountable challenge.
Could Lane Kiffin be on his way back to the SEC?
The Florida Atlantic coach has reportedly met with Arkansas athletic director Hunter Yurachek, according to Doug Samuels of Football Scoop. The two sides have had “significant conversations” about the job, but there is no guarantee Kiffin would take the position. The situation is also complicated by the fact that Kiffin is busy preparing for the Conference USA championship game.
Arkansas’ search appears wide open at this point. Iowa State’s Matt Campbell is reportedly the school’s top choice, but he is unlikely to take the job. They have also looked at Washington State’s Mike Leach and Memphis’ Mike Norvell.
Arkansas wants a big name hire, and Kiffin would certainly qualify, though it’s arguable that he’s a big name for the reasons they want. He went 7-6 at Tennessee before fleeing to USC, where he went 28-15 before being fired. He’s 25-13 in three seasons so far at FAU.
Kiffin has been linked to other big jobs and downplayed his interest. This one definitely seems to be up in the air.