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HEI2MAN WATCH: Lane Kiffin has a knack for enhancing talent. Matt Corral is no different

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We got the receipts.

NCAA Football: Austin Peay at Mississippi Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday afternoon, ESPN commentator and former columnist Michael Wilbon filled up his diaper about Lane Kiffin, calling him a “clown” and saying that he is only necessary so people like him that talk about sports every day can have something to discuss.

Now, we at Red Cup Rebellion don’t agree with what Mr. Wilbon had to say on his cute little television show in the middle of the day on ESPN. For him to call the Ole Miss head coach a “clown” and someone that has been an “embarrassment at multiple stops” seems a bit of a stretch.

Sure, he was fired rather quickly when he was the youngest head coach in NFL history, but an embarrassment is a little much. This is someone that navigated NCAA sanctions at both Tennessee and USC only to win 32 games in four years. He also completely transformed Alabama’s offense and helped them be what they are today. After that, all he did was win two conference titles in three years at FAU before landing in Oxford to take over the Ole Miss program.

And since arriving, he’s won an Outback Bowl and now has arguably the hottest team and quarterback in the nation.

Clown? Nah, fam.

So what has helped him have such big success at every single stop he’s made? The ability to put the best players in position to make plays. Plain and simple.

2004

In his final year as wide receivers coach at Southern Cal, Kiffin’s corp was a key cog for Matt Leinart to hoist the Heisman Trophy in New York City. The three-headed monster of Dwayne Jarrett (849 yards, 13 touchdowns), Steve Smith (660 yards, six touchdowns), and Reggie Bush (509 yards, seven touchdowns) paced an offense that averaged 71 plays and 449 yards of total offense per game in an era that had yet to discover the hurry-up, no huddle attack.

2005

The next year, all he did for an encore was earn a promotion to passing game and offensive coordinator and lead Reggie Bush to a Heisman season. The Trojans scored at an explosive rate, running 77 plays and putting up 580 yards per game. Bush had 2,218 yards from scrimmage and scored 18 touchdowns, helping USC finish national runner-up to Vince Young and Texas.

2015

Once Kiffin got his hands on Alabama’s offense, he started to manipulate things to expose defensive deficiencies in the open field with his best players. But, sometimes if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Derrick Henry won the Heisman Trophy in dominating fashion. The Yulee, Fla. native ran for an insane 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns, carrying Alabama to a national championship win over Clemson.

2021

And now, six years later, Kiffin’s guy is Matt Corral, who has been lights out, and the Rebels are 3-0 heading into a top-15 showdown with No. 1 Alabama on Saturday. The junior quarterback from Ventura, Calif. has thrown for 997 yards and nine touchdowns and is now +155 to win the Heisman Trophy, per Vegas Insider, after starting around +5500 in the preseason.

Kiffin and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, who just so happened to be on the Baylor staff in 2011 when Robert Griffin III won the Heisman, have worked wonders in a little over a year with Corral. They’ve turned an overly-aggressive gunslinger into a composed surgeon.

Despite a two-game wart in 2020, Corral led the nation in total yards per game and appears to have gotten a lot of his bad habits ironed out as the Rebels head into Tuscaloosa with upset on their minds. If he continues at this pace and Ole Miss continues to win games, he will almost certainly receive an invite to the Heisman Trophy Trust’s presentation in the Empire State.


Corral, as you can see above, has Nick Saban’s attention and then some ahead of Saturday’s game. National pundits continue to sing the praises of his development and maturation under the tutelage of Kiffin who is doing his best to try and add another stiff-arm trophy on his proverbial mantle.

And if Corral can continue to follow the lead of the “clown” in charge, he has an excellent shot at not only winning some hardware in December, but hearing his name called awfully early in next year’s NFL Draft.

Quite the circus, huh?