A mere week after firing head coach Matt Luke, new athletic director Keith Carter has nabbed his guy already, making the move to name Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin as Ole Miss’ new head coach, as first reported by Rebel Grove’s Neal McCready.
Kiffin, 44 replaces Luke who just finished up a 4-8 campaign that saw the Rebels lose close game after close game an whiff on every single toss-up game that they had a chance at winning. The former head coach was just 15-21 in three seasons at the helm and a miserable 6-18 in the SEC.
His replacement flips the script, quite literally. Kiffin has won 25 games at FAU in just three years, winning a Conference USA title and owning more than 25% of the program’s all-time wins. In year one, he went 11-3 and undefeated in conference en route to a Boca Raton Bowl victory. Then, after a down year when he had to replace most of his staff and his quarterback medically-retired, he bounced back in a big way and won nine games and is poised for another C-USA title.
Arkansas and Ole Miss went head-to-head all week for the Lincoln, Neb. native, but after Keith Carter flew down to Boca Raton, Fla. to meet face-to-face with the Rebels’ newest head coach, Arkansas waved the white flag. Per sources, Kiffin not only preferred the Ole Miss job due to recruiting territory and roster potential, but money was not a deciding factor here. So basically, Keith Carter went toe-to-toe with Hunter Yurachek, Jerry Jones, and John Tyson and came away with a knockout blow in the 5th round.
You truly hate to see it.
Okay enough talk of those losers, back to our new football dad.
The former Fresno State quarterback is well-traveled, enjoying head coaching stops with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee, Southern Cal, and FAU. He’s also had assistant stops with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Colorado State, and Alabama.
A lot has been made of his failures in Oakland and how his tenures ended in Los Angeles and Knoxville, but the point remains, the guy can flat-out coach. He turned a hapless 5-7 Vols team into a seven-win team before leaving for Southern Cal where all he did was win 10 games while they were under NCAA sanctions. Sure, his exit there wasn’t great, but then all he did was go to Tuscaloosa and morph Blake Sims into a College Football Playoff semifinal quarterback and then win a national title with Jake Coker the next year.
And, yes, I know he was “fired” before the title game, but he had already accepted the job in Boca Raton. And then all he did was win 11 games in year one and nine games in year three.
His overall record in college is an impressive 60-34 and his Power 5 stops at big-time programs like Alabama, Southern Cal, and Tennessee will give Kiffin the opportunity to put together quite the SEC West-worthy staff. His 2009 Tennessee staff, for instance, boasted his father Monte Kiffin and popular names such as Jim Chaney, Ed Orgeron, Frank Wilson, Lance Thompson, and James Gregg.
This hire made so much sense for Ole Miss and Carter to make. Kiffin is going to inject excitement into a program that was flat-lining, energize a roster full of talent, and bring an elite approach to recruiting. His offense is going to be high-flying and his personality might be the only thing that will be entertaining.
Sure, he might be a little much for some, but this hire has now put Ole Miss back on the map. And after winning only 15 games in three years, that’s all you can ask for right now.
Joey Freshwater is coming to Oxford.
I have verbally committed to Ole Miss tonight.— Colin Cowherd (@ColinCowherd) December 7, 2019