It’s amazing how much can change in a week’s time.
On Thanksgiving night, the morale surrounding the Ole Miss football program was at an all-time low. The Rebels had just lost the Egg Bowl following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by Elijah Moore and a missed extra point by Luke Logan.
Since Matt Luke’s hiring at the end of the 2017 season, Ole Miss fans had been skeptical of his abilities to lead an SEC West program into the future, and Luke was ultimately not able to get the job done in his three years.
You can blame Ole Miss’ lack of on-field production on the aftermath of scholarship sanctions from the NCAA, Matt Luke or a combination of both, but regardless of who was at fault, fan belief in the program had reached a low it hadn’t felt since Houston Nutt’s final days in Oxford.
It appeared that Matt Luke was going to get the benefit of one more year at the helm to right the ship, but money talks, and following the national embarrassment brought on at the end of the Egg Bowl, it spoke very loudly.
Athletics director Keith Carter stepped up in his new position to find a new head coach who could not only recruit and coach at a high level, but excite a lifeless fan base and get season ticket sales moving back in the right direction.
One candidate checked all the boxes.
Rumors began to circulate late last week that Ole Miss was making real progress with Lane Kiffin to make him the next head coach, and by week’s end, those rumors were deafening. It was clear that something would have to go awry for Kiffin to not get the gig. Fans wanted him, and, eventually, Keith Carter wanted him too.
What should comfort Ole Miss fans is that Kiffin is not just a hire that’s all splash and no substance. Kiffin has posted a 61-34 record as a collegiate head coach and also became a Nick Saban mentee partway through his career as offensive coordinator at Alabama. Kiffin might not be the “safest” hire, but he is a name that can hit the recruiting trail hard and coach well on the gridiron, something Ole Miss desperately needs.
Players and recruits alike are attracted to the swagger Kiffin brings to the field and his program. Ole Miss seems to have finally gotten out of its own way, at least momentarily, in hiring Kiffin.
Overnight, the Rebels became nationally relevant again, even after a 4-8 campaign. Kiffin inherits a roster full of young talent, including quarterback Grant Tisdale who decided not to enter the transfer portal following the coaching hire. If Kiffin can bring a strong staff to Oxford, as rumors indicate he will, this could end up being a home run hire for the future of Ole Miss football.
The Lane Train has pulled into Oxford, and Ole Miss fans are excited about the ensuing ride.