4. Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss
It was just a question of where, not if.
Lane Kiffin is too good a head football coach to not be heading up a major program, and now he’s getting his chance in a different sort of role and a different sort of gig.
At 31 he wasn’t ready yet – and he didn’t have the team to work with – as the Oakland Raider head man for 20 games, but he did just fine in his one season at Tennessee. He never received enough credit for coming up with three winning campaigns at a USC program under NCAA sanctions.
When given his chance again at Florida Atlantic, he pulled off two Conference USA championships and two double-digit win seasons in three seasons.
And now the Lane Train is rolling into Oxford, and he gets to play the underdog role that’s absolutely perfect for him.
Kiffin is the poke-the-bear coach. He’s the antagonizer. He’s the coach who knows how to crank up an offense and give his team an attitude that’s needed to try surviving live in the SEC West.
He and Ole Miss might not win the division, or beat Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M, and … he and the team might just find a way to win a few of those.
It starts with the lines. It’s going to take a redo on the defensive front, but the offensive interior should be okay, the skill players are interesting, and there’s just enough left over from the Matt Luke era to be better right away.
The Rebels that went 4-8 last season should be good enough to hang with Baylor, beat SE Missouri State, take out UConn, and beat Arkansas and Vanderbilt, Georgia Southern.
Do all of that, take back the Egg Bowl with a home win over Mississippi State, and/or a win over one of the big boys, and it’s back to a bowl game and a winning season as a big first step.
Oh, will this be fun.