Now according to several different outlets, Lane Kiffin is set to return to the SEC. Ole Miss will hire former Tennessee, USC and now FAU head coach Lane Kiffin. He will follow Matt Luke in Oxford, who was fired after the season following a 15-21 record.
Kiffin is finishing up his third season at FAU, steering the Owls to a 9-3 record. He has a chance to cap off his second ten win season in Boca Raton on Saturday.
This will mark his first opportunity back in the SEC since Kiffin was the offensive coordinator at Alabama from 2014-2017. Kiffin led some high-powered offenses in Tuscaloosa, but his relationship with Nick Saban was always a bit rocky, at least from the outside looking in. Saban made a change during the college football playoff in 2017, letting Kiffin go ahead of the national title game. Steve Sarkisian took over for the final game, while Kiffin landed in Boca.
Kiffin landed his first college head coaching opportunity at Tennessee in 2009, following Phillip Fulmer. He went 7-6 in that year, offering plenty of hope for the future. But USC came calling shortly after the season — an offer Lane couldn’t turn down. His early departure had a lot to do with Tennessee spiraling down the drain over the next decade.
Kiffin went 8-5 in his first year at USC, then 10-2. But a 7-6 season in 2012 had him on the hot seat. He was fired after a 3-2 start in 2013. He rebounded in Tuscaloosa, entering Nick Saban’s coaching rehab program. That clearly paid off five years later, as Ole Miss is set to give him another opportunity.
He will now be tasked with getting Ole Miss back to winning in the SEC West, a job that’s never been tougher considering where Alabama, LSU and Auburn currently stand.
Ole Miss will travel to Knoxville in 2021.
Kiffin’s fit at Ole Miss will be fascinating. He had a pretty cushy job at FAU, but now the pressure to win big will return. Now a half-decade removed from his last big opportunity, will Kiffin capitalize on this chance? That we don’t know, but it will probably be a whole lot of fun to watch from a distance.