OPINION — Like It Is

OPINION | WALLY HALL: Kiffin is minding his manners these days

It appears Lane Kiffin is more model citizen than most who have observed his sometimes crazy career would have believed.

Of course, he's 48 years old and maybe he's matured and prefers a quieter life.

When he was hired at Ole Miss in 2019, someone posted on Facebook "Lane Kiffin has bought a home in Oxford," and it showed a picture of a sorority house with most of the members on the large veranda.

Kiffin and his wife had divorced in 2016 right after he left Alabama amid a swirl of rumors which were not confirmed, but there was obviously no love lost between Kiffin and Nick Saban.

Kiffin went to Alabama, same as Steve Sarkisian and a host of others, to get Sabanized. That is getting your professional reputation cleansed after being fired.

Saban used Kiffin's offensive knowledge to change the Crimson Tide to an uptempo attack. The Tide have gone back to a more smash-mouth offense this season.

Kiffin ended up needing to be Sabanized after he was fired on the tarmac when Southern Cal returned to Los Angeles International after a 62-41 loss to Arizona State.

He was pulled off the bus by then-Athletic Director Pat Haden and dismissed -- not just his job but a ride back to campus as well.

Ed Orgeron took over as interim coach, went 6-2 to finish the season and landed at LSU, where he won a national championship but was eventually paid $18 million to go away.

He and Kiffin are good friends.

Kiffin's head coaching career started when he was 32 as the head coach of the Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders. He went 4-12 his first year and was off to a 1-3 start when the late Al Davis fired him, calling Kiffin "an all out liar," and was guilty of "bringing disgrace to the program," and that he would not be paid the remainder of his $2.8 million contract because the firing was for cause.

Kiffin filed a grievance and lost.

By the start of the next season, Kiffin was the head coach of the Tennessee Vols, where he called out Florida's Urban Meyer for cheating, which drew a reprimand from the late great SEC Commissioner Mike Slive.

Kiffin left a year later for the USC job, where he went 25-18 before making the mistake of catching the team plane home.

With Kiffin at Alabama, the Crimson Tide was 40-4 overall and 22-2 in SEC play. After winning one national championship, Kiffin intended to coach in the next natty when he was told to hit the road, Jack, and don't look back.

He had already accepted the job at Florida Atlantic, where he went 11-3 and was given a 10-year contract. Two seasons later -- after going 5-7 then 10-3 -- Ole Miss called and offered him $16.4 million for four years, which he happily accepted.

His first season was the covid one and the Rebels went 5-5 with the first 100% covid-protected team in the country. He's not had a losing season and after last year's 8-5, 4-4 record and a rumor that Auburn was interested in him, he received a third raise, this one to $8.6 million a year and the NIL package was raised to $10 million.

So he has a lot of incentives for being a model citizen.

This week, our man Bob Holt reported that after the disheartening loss to Alabama Kiffin apologized to Athletic Director Keith Carter of Perryville fame, and the Rebels bounced back with a huge 55-49 win over LSU, which coupled with its loss to Florida State pretty much eliminated the Tigers from the College Football Playoffs.

The Rebels are a long shot, too, but they are a balanced football team offensively and better on defense than Kiffin's first three seasons.

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