If you spend enough time listening to Lane Kiffin speak with the media, you won’t learn many new things, but you will get a masterclass in sticking to talking points he has established.
On Tuesday, Kiffin showcased that ability in ESPN’s Alex Scarborough’s one-hour interview with the Ole Miss head coach. Of note, Kiffin discussed:
- Gross coffee things
- Spring Break 2K23
- Hot yoga
- Not taking the Auburn job
- Lack of farmhouse art in the kitchen that says, “Family: a little bit of crazy, a little bit of loud, and a whole lot of love”
- The Oakland A’s
- A self-help book by someone who definitely charges $100 a ticket to an in-person seminar
- Auburn distractions and Ole Miss’ NIL collective
- 35-year old Lane Kiffin would be like BRO, WHAT’S THE DEAL
To keep you from pouring through mostly familiar material, I gathered key moments and dropped them into the space below. Many are saying I am a hero for saving you time, and we’re hearing it more and more.
Let’s hit the highlights.
Coffee additive to improve pooping
According to Scarborough, Kiffin’s coffee situation is what one might call AGONY IN THE NAME OF PSEUDOSCIENCE.
Lane Kiffin’s coffee looks like someone shoveled dirt in a pot and set it to boil. Mysterious clumps float on top. It’s best not wondering what has sunk to the bottom. “It’s some digestive thing that’s supposed to make you lose weight,” Kiffin says, gesturing to the Styrofoam cup atop his desk, unsure if it’s meant to reduce bloat, increase metabolism or both.
The only thing for certain is that the hot yoga place sold him an organic product at a 275 percent markup. Well, that and he is paying to ruin whatever joy he once got out of drinking coffee.
As a non-coffee drinker*, this whole scene is even more grim to me. Voluntarily subjecting himself to the coffee life and then pursuing a path that exponentially increases the degree of gross.
*I will die on the It’s Terrible hill. Sorry that my palate does not tolerate garbage.
Airbrushed Spring Break 2K23 t-shirts
If you’re tracking Kiffin’s travel:
“I was in California on spring break and didn’t work out that much.”
While no sources confirmed the existence of any family t-shirts, this rendering gives us an idea of what they might look like:
This screams “we went to the La Brea Tar Pits this morning, we’re doing the Santa Monica Pier this afternoon, and Universal Studios is tomorrow.” Being forced to wear this would be a good character-building experience for his children.
Hot yoga is life
So I went this morning to hot yoga for the” — he closes his eyes, counting in his head — “ninth time.”
Nine times since Monday, and it’s only Friday afternoon. “Two-a-days,” he says, as if he too is a player in the middle of spring practice. The first class is at 6:15 a.m. It’s 105 degrees and as humid as a sauna inside thanks to a steam machine Kiffin bought the studio out of his own pocket.
The hot yoga studio is fleecing him left and right!
He goes on to tout the physical and mental benefits he gets from yoga. He also says that the steam machine actually runs on the complaints of those who hate when he goes for it on fourth down and doesn’t get a first down, yet love the decision when he does convert*.
*I may have made this part up.
Saying no to the YellaWood life
Scarborough writes about Kiffin’s previous firings at USC and with the Raiders, his time at Alabama, and his work at Florida Atlantic, which allowed him to get the Ole Miss job.
All of those experiences factored into his decision to not take the Auburn job:
It’s been a long road to get back here, to a place where he has options. So instead of looking at one thing and making a decision about whether to go to Auburn, he looked at the situation in totality. He considered those firings and those boosters. Of course he did. But he also had to consider his personal situation. Was he really ready to start over again? Did he really want to tell his daughter, a senior in high school with plans on going to Ole Miss next year, that he was moving again?
And there was also the transfer portal and cash money available through Ole Miss’ NIL collective:
With NIL and the transfer portal at his disposal, did Kiffin really believe Auburn was that much better positioned to win than Ole Miss? Maybe not. He had confidence in the program before, but, he says, “I have more confidence than I would’ve prior to this system.”
Essentially, the portal helps somewhat negate Ole Miss’ inability to consistently sign elite high school recruiting classes. As Kiffin notes, they’ve done that one time in their history, and I assume that didn’t make anyone mad, especially the fellas from Indianapolis.
You do have to be blood to be family
We’ve all heard Kiffin, assistant coaches, and players preach the pro mindset mantra and rarely does anyone mention “family.” In the interview, Kiffin speaks to that for maybe the first time since he’s been at Ole Miss:
“These coaches sell parents on — especially in the south — come here, it’s family, we’re gonna treat you like family,” he says. “I’m like, ‘No, they’re not.’ If it was family, then why do coaches bring kids in and say, ‘Hey, we want to help you transfer, it’d be better for you to transfer.’? You don’t do that to your family. So the whole family thing, I said, ‘We have to teach some reality that there’s a business side.’”
And he’s right! No group, organization, office, or whatever should claim to be a family because they’re not. Nor should anyone consider them to be on the level with family.
Creating an environment* with an inflated degree of loyalty will eventually create more problems. The reality is everyone is there to know what’s expected of them, work together, and do a job. If you develop close relationships during that process, that’s great, but it’s not required.
That’s sort of what Kiffin is getting at here:
Kiffin tells players that competition ultimately makes everyone better, and, “Just like the pros, we can’t not sign players based off your feelings.”
“That’s not my job to make you happy,” he says. “My job is to make the best roster for our fans, for our [athletic director], for our chancellor that hired me.”
His job is to build the best team possible. Even if that means moving on from a player that has contributed and maybe he even likes as a person.
Similarly, a player’s job is to produce. If he produces outrageously, he would be foolish to think he “owes” it to Kiffin/Ole Miss/Whomever to not at least listen to offers from other schools.
*Related, creating a cult of personality brand is also very stupid!
Scarborough writes that Kiffin has a sign outside his office with “the Oakland A’s logo on it and ‘MONEYBALL’ underneath.” It’s unclear why this is outside the office and not in the office but to each his own.
Why is this sign up?
Kiffin’s point is that he and his staff strive to be ahead of the curve.
Another sign nearby puts it differently: “Change the way people think. We don’t think outside the box, we create a new one.”
So we’re at two signs outside the office. Are there too many signs in the office that some have to be relegated to the sitting area/atrium/hallway outside the office? Is there a rotation of signs, meaning the Oakland A’s sign could be back in the office in June? Is there a no signs in the actual office policy?
Frankly, we need to know more about this signs situation. Motivational things in foot traffic areas is an odd choice.
Let you help you
The aforementioned self-help section:
...Kiffin wants to talk about a self-help concept he found in the book “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday. To sum it up, Kiffin says, “Things happen that appear to be bad in your life and then really they’re not, and the obstacle was the way to improve.”
[extreme Jim Ross voice]
“I gotta tell ya, King, something seems off here.”
(Cole Swindell song begins blasting throughout the arena)
“THAT’S HUGH FREEZE’S MUSIC!”
(Kiffin removes mask to reveal he is Freeze)
Entertaining the idea of being an Auburn Man™ but ultimately raising NIL money
The interview moves into the events surrounding Kiffin’s discussions with Auburn and whether it was a distraction over the last month of the season. While this is going on, the Ole Miss NIL collective, fearing Kiffin will leave due to insufficient funds to get players, collects donations like crazy, eventually reaching $10 million.
On the night before the Egg Bowl, Kiffin tells the team he’s staying, which is an even worse indictment than “distraction” on the coaches’ and players’ performances in a game they should’ve won by two scores.
Kiffin’s notes on how it all went down:
“So you can look at it and say, all right, there’s something we wish wouldn’t have happened and the whole Auburn thing was a distraction,” Kiffin says. “But you can also look at it and say, if that didn’t happen, what would the collective be? And not just in what we signed in the last portal and recruiting class, but the future? Or, more importantly, keeping our own players.”
So, you know, you’re welcome, Ole Miss.
(lowers sunglasses and speeds away on a boat)
Obviously, the events, as they transpired were not ideal, but the results were pretty close to it. Kiffin remained head coach, and the NIL collective had plenty of money to retain players (namely Quinshon Judkins) and get others through the transfer portal.
As Scarborough notes, who knows if the Ole Miss NIL collective can keep the vault stacked with cash year after year (or is affected by any kind of NIL changes), but Kiffin is convinced it’s reliable enough to give his program opportunities with players, both on the roster and in the transfer portal.
Living in Oxford
The interview concludes with Kiffin being somewhat amazed, in a good way, that he ended up in Oxford, Mississippi as the head coach of an SEC team.
“I always had confidence in myself that I’d be back, but I don’t know that I would have said I’d have an SEC job and having another SEC school talk to me,” Kiffin says. “I don’t know that I would have said that. And I really don’t think there’s any way I would have bet I’d be in Oxford, Mississippi.”
How long the relationship between Ole Miss and Lane Kiffin lasts depends on particular job openings* or job performance that doesn’t match his $9 million a year salary. When that end might come, I don’t know, nor does anyone else.
But, for the first time in the modern era, Ole Miss has a skilled coaching mercenary (and not a good ol’ boy who loves the Rebs) with the resources he’s asked for in order to win a lot of games. Hopefully.
*I believe the list of places Kiffin would leave Ole Miss for, assuming it isn’t a get-ahead-of-the-posse move, consists mostly of those with insane recruiting advantages, in the South-ish (he hates cold weather more than any person alive), and not mega-weirdo fanbases, plus one West Coast spot. And obviously wild things would have to happen to create these openings.