If there was any doubt remaining on the Ole Miss campus, it evaporated as Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne blared from the speakers in the Pavilion with Lane Kiffin walking out to thunderous cheer from thousands of fans.
The new Ole Miss head football coach is a rockstar.
It’s been a party in Oxford for Ole Miss fans since Kiffin touched down at the airport and was immediately handed a baby and advised to get a burner phone. Keith Carter and Kiffin have breathed life into a sleeping program in just two days and the momentum this weekend was capped off in the official pep rally introducing Kiffin to the fanbase on Monday.
“A lot better than another tarmac experience I had,” Kiffin joked. “That was pretty neat to see. I didn’t know people were allowed on a tarmac. I felt like I was in a movie… You could feel the energy. That was really neat and special for them to go out of their way and do that and from what I was told have a tailgate party.”
Kiffin will use this momentum to hit the ground running immediately. With the early signing period for the class of 2020 recruits starting on December 18, the new coach will move quickly to assemble a staff and begin salvaging this year’s class. Kiffin said he’ll bring in coaches from his previous staff and continue interviewing the current Ole Miss staff to settle positions while the recruiting part of the job has already started.
“(It’s) extremely important. It started last night,” he said. “I hadn’t even changed clothes yet from the plane and obviously you can’t talk about specific kids but starting last night and 6:30 this morning.
“You don’t win in this conference just by being a good coach. You win in this conference by having really good assistants and getting really good players. There’s too much talent in this conference to just think coaching alone does that.”
Kiffin’s recruiting will go beyond high school freshman in the coming months as several players on the current Ole Miss roster entered their name on the transfer portal. Quarterback Grant Tisdale removed his name from the portal after Kiffin’s hiring and the coach said he’s had conversations with other players about potentially staying.
Kiffin said when selling Ole Miss to prospects, he can present a rising program with big win potential.
“I remember losing here at Alabama. Like I said, we lost two regular season games in three years, both to the same team,” Kiffin said. “My brother Chris was here so I had also spent part of the summer here and went around and saw the areas and the people and thought ‘that’s a special place’. It’s a really neat place to live and you can win here because I saw it. No one else was beating us.”
With help from his new staff, Kiffin will look to build a new culture in the Ole Miss football program with aggressive philosophy on the field and on the recruiting trail.
“A lot of coaches are scared of the press conference afterwards and so they do the conservative easy thing so you guys don’t rip them,” he said. “So get ready to rip me.”