There were undoubtedly goosebumps and heightened blood pressure as Lane Kiffin strode confidently to the podium at SEC Media Days this afternoon.
His watchability is undeniable, love him or hate him, and he showed why Ole Miss fans have gotten behind the second-year head coach.
First off, the man wore loafers with no socks, which is Ole Miss through and through. Second, he stood up for Mississippi food and said he doesn’t appreciate the negativity around it. And finally, he showed realness and humor to a room of reporters desperate for both in a week that usually has little.
Additionally, Kiffin brought his son Knox along with him for the media circus in Birmingham.
Head Coach Lane Kiffin
This is Kiffin’s first time in 12 years at SEC Media Days as a head coach, his first being with Tennessee.
It’s no surprise that the major talking point was what will make the defense different this year.
“I do think signing a lot of kids in the offseason helps and really just having our first spring. I think last year a lot of first-year staffs struggled on defense.”
The Rebels picked up 12 new defensive players as well as transfers Jacob Springer and Otis Reese now being eligible for the entire season.
Kiffin also talked about the emergence of freshman quarterback Luke Altmyer and the impact that he will have this year. This alluded to the fact that John Rhys Plumlee will most likely be taking more reps as a wide receiver and the backup quarterback start will fall into the hands of either junior, Kinkaid Dent or freshman Luke Altmyer.
In terms of injury, Kiffin kept a lot of it private but did mention that Ealy has been working out and recovering well after a shoulder injury from last season. He mentioned that Ealy is fully back from it.
The head coach was also asked about his huge presence on Twitter and how he has the most interactions on Twitter of any head coach.
And for my personal favorite quote of the day...
Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin about to take the dais at SEC media days.— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 20, 2021
Earlier, Kiffin said he's lost 30 pounds. How? Not eating.
"I stopped eating and I'm going to start again when we play good defense."
QB1, Matt Corral has received significant media attention after an incredible year at quarterback averaging 10.2 yards and throwing for over 3,337 yards on the season.
Despite a record-breaking season, there are two games that stand out. In the Arkansas game, Corral threw six interceptions in what honestly seemed like a nightmare. When asked about that game, this was his response.
“I’m not one to make excuses. That was completely my fault. ...I can promise when I face that defense again it’s going to be much different.”
Matt Corral also mentioned that he has played against a lot of these SEC players like Bryce Young and JT Daniels.
“ I think JT Daniels is a great, great quarterback. He is truly your typical southern California quarterback. He’s been one of the best ever since we’ve been in seventh grade. I remember it was an FBU All-American team or FBU All-Star team, and he was playing for the OC, Orange County, and I was playing for North L.A., and he was always beating me, always beating my team.”
The defensive-back from Texas will be returning for his sixth year as a Rebel, and no one has had worse luck than him. He has suffered injury after injury, and when he thought he was finally healthy, suffered a season-ending upper-body injury against Arkansas in week 4 this past season.
The veteran announced that he was feeling fresh and blessed after his injury, and felt ready to go for August at the media days. Having him healthy will be huge for the defense, not only for his talent but for his leadership as well. Each SEC coach is only able to select two players for media day, and it is no coincidence that Kiffin selected the 2020 Chucky Mullins winner.
The biggest takeaway from today's media day will have nothing to do with Ole Miss. Alabama head coach Nick Saban made the shocking announcement that his quarterback, who has only thrown the ball 22 times in his career, is nearing seven figures from the new NIL announcement.
Keep in mind, this was put into place only 20 days ago. It’s still too early to see the full effects that this decision will have on recruiting, but I think it is pretty clear that where the money is, the recruits will go.
That isn’t new though ;)