Lane Kiffin named 39th head coach of Ole Miss Football
OXFORD, Miss. – (Courtesy of Ole Miss Media Relations) Lane Kiffin, who just won his second Conference USA Championship in the last three years at Florida Atlantic, is bringing his exciting brand of football to Ole Miss, as athletics director Keith Carter announced him as the Rebels’ 39th head coach on Saturday.
A public introduction, presented by Oxford Orthopaedics, will take place Monday at 1 p.m. CT at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. The event will be open to the public and broadcast live on SEC Network, in addition to OleMissSports.com and Ole Miss Football Twitter and Facebook channels.
Kiffin, who arrives in Oxford after three seasons in the same position at FAU, has more than 10 years of head coaching experience, including eight years at the NCAA level where he has posted an all-time record of 61-34.
“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Coach Kiffin to the Ole Miss family,” Carter said. “As we entered this process, we were looking for energy, innovativeness and a program builder who could excite our student-athletes and fans. Coach Kiffin checked every box and is a home run for our program. I look forward to locking arms with him to take Ole Miss Football to a championship level.”
“As an experienced head coach and one of the great offensive minds in college football, Lane Kiffin brings energetic leadership, deep understanding of the competitive landscape of the SEC and an approach to the game that will captivate Ole Miss fans,” said Chancellor Glenn Boyce. “I am thrilled to welcome Coach Kiffin to Ole Miss and Oxford as we look ahead with great anticipation for the future of Ole Miss Football. In addition, I want to congratulate Keith Carter for the outstanding leadership he demonstrated in attracting a nationally recognized coach to our university to lead the Rebel football program.”
In December 2016, Kiffin took over an FAU program that had won a total of nine combined games over the previous three seasons. Kiffin proceeded to take the Owls to new heights over the last three years, including two conference titles and two 10-win seasons.
In his head coaching stops at USC, Tennessee and FAU, Kiffin has shown a propensity in helping turn programs around. In his first season at all three locations, Kiffin’s team improved in win differential (+3.33), scoring (+10.2), passing (+34.5 ypg) and rushing (+51.3 ypg).
“I am truly honored and humbled to join the Ole Miss family, and recognize this as a special opportunity to lead Rebel Football into the future,” Kiffin said. “I am especially grateful to Keith Carter, Chancellor Boyce and the entire Ole Miss family for their trust and confidence. Our staff and I will work tirelessly to recruit and develop successful players for this program, and I look forward to producing many exciting memories to add to Ole Miss’ storied football legacy. I am excited to get to Oxford and begin the groundwork of building a championship program that Mississippi’s flagship university deserves, and I’m thrilled to be back in the greatest athletics’ conference in the nation. Hotty Toddy!”
Kiffin led the Owls to a 10-3 record this season, including Saturday’s 49-6 win over UAB in the Conference USA Championship Game. The Owls lead the nation in interceptions (19) and turnovers gained (29). FAU also leads C-USA in scoring offense (34.1), red zone offense (0.911), fumbles lost (three) and turnover margin (1.58).
In his first season in Boca Raton, Kiffin started 1-3, but reeled off a program-high 10 consecutive wins to finish the 2017 campaign at 11-3. The Owls’ 11 victories were two more than the previous three seasons combined and earned the program votes in national polls. The seven-game improvement tied for the fifth-best turnaround in FBS history. Along the way, 41 individual or team records were amassed, and an FAU-record 21 players earned All-Conference USA recognition.
The Owls captured their second conference title in program history, the first since joining C-USA and first since 2007. FAU remained a perfect 3-0 in bowl play by defeating Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl, 50-3. Statistically, the Owls finished in the top-25 in 16 team categories, including: No. 2 in passes intercepted, No. 5 in first down offense, No. 6 in rushing offense, No. 8 in kickoff return defense, red zone offense and turnovers lost, and No. 9 in total offense and turnover margin (by comparison, FAU was No. 72 the previous season in total offense and No. 99 in turnovers gained).
Kiffin joined the FAU Owls after three seasons at the University of Alabama, where he served as the Tide’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He was a finalist for the Frank Broyles Award in 2014, which goes to the country’s best assistant coach.
His final season with the Tide, Kiffin mentored Jalen Hurts, the first freshman to start at quarterback in head coach Nick Saban’s career. Hurts finished 13-1 as the starting QB and guided Alabama to an SEC title and to the National Championship game. Hurts was a Freshman All-American, the SEC Offensive Player of the year and the SEC Freshman of the Year. He was a finalist for the Manning Award, the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award, a semifinalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year and the Davey O’Brien Award, presented annually to the nation’s top quarterback.
In 2015, Kiffin oversaw the development of quarterback Jake Coker, who finished his career 14-0 as a starter at Alabama and led the nation in completion percentage over the final 10 games of the season at 72.2 percent. Coker threw for 3,110 yards with 21 touchdowns, which ranks as the second-most passing yards in school history. On the ground, Kiffin fed Heisman Trophy running back Derrick Henry the ball a school-and SEC-record 395 times for a record 2,219 yards and 23 touchdowns. Henry’s 2,219 yards was also the fifth-most rushing yards in a single season in college football history.
One of Kiffin’s first responsibilities at Alabama was identifying a starting quarterback and then developing Blake Sims in 2014. With three-year starter and All-American AJ McCarron off to the NFL, Kiffin oversaw Sims’ rise to the top of the Alabama depth chart en route to a school-record 3,487 passing yards and 3,837 yards of total offense while completing 64.5 percent of his passes. He ranked tied for fourth nationally in total QBR (83.7) and seventh in passing efficiency (157.9). Sims was selected second-team All-SEC, named to the Senior Bowl, tabbed as a finalist for the Manning Award and a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award.
He spent the previous three-plus seasons as the head coach at Southern California, where he compiled a record of 28-15. Kiffin’s 2012 USC squad went 7-6 overall and 5-4 in the Pac-12 South, good for second place. Wide receiver Marquise Lee was a unanimous first team All-American and won the Biletnikoff Award while also being named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year. Quarterback Matt Barkley, who won the Wuerffel Trophy, set conference records for passing yards and passing touchdowns.
Kiffin led the Trojans to a 10-2 record in 2011 and a sixth-place finish in the final Associated Press poll. The team finished first in the Pac-12 South with a 7-2 mark. His 2011 USC offense produced a 3,500-yard passer, a pair of 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher. Three Trojans earned First Team All-America honors (Matt Kalil, Robert Woods and T.J. McDonald) and five were named Freshman All-Americans.
In his first year as the head coach at USC, Kiffin led the Trojans to an 8-5 record (5-4 Pac-10). Before his arrival, the Trojans were averaging 26.5 points per game in scoring offense and 389.1 yards per game in total offense. In his first two seasons, those numbers increased to 31.0 points per game and 431.5 yards in 2011 and 35.8 points and 456.8 yards in 2012.
Prior to his tenure at Southern California, Kiffin served as the head coach at Tennessee in 2009. He led the Volunteers to a second-place finish in the SEC East and an appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Volunteers’ offense jumped at least 34 places in every national statistical category over the 2008 figures. Tennessee improved from 17.3 to 29.3 points per game while going from 268.8 to 383.5 yards per game in total offense.
Kiffin came to Tennessee from the Oakland Raiders, where he served as head coach from 2007-08. At 31, he was the youngest head coach in the NFL’s modern era. Oakland’s offense significantly improved in his first year, up 7.2 points per game and 48.6 yards per game from 2006.
Prior to his first head coaching job, Kiffin spent six years as an assistant coach for Pete Carroll at Southern California, including two years as the offensive coordinator (2005-06). During his first tenure with the Trojans, USC captured two national championships and compiled a 65-12 record. Kiffin was promoted to passing game coordinator in 2004 and helped Matt Leinart win the Heisman Trophy as he passed for 3,322 yards with 33 touchdowns and just six interceptions.
He took over as USC’s offensive coordinator in 2005 and led the Trojans to a scoring average of 49.1 points per game and 579.8 yards per game of total offense during his two years as offensive coordinator. Kiffin started at USC in 2001 as the tight ends coach and then coached the wide receivers during his remaining five years.
Kiffin graduated from Fresno State in 1998 after playing quarterback for three seasons (1994-96) for the Bulldogs. He began his coaching career as a student assistant at Fresno State under Pat Hill in 1997 and 1998. He moved on to Colorado State in 1999 as a graduate assistant. He spent the 2000 season as defensive quality control assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars under Tom Coughlin.
Kiffin attended Bloomington Jefferson High in Bloomington, Minnesota, where he played football, basketball and baseball. He has two daughters, Landry and Presley, and one son, Knox.
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KIFFIN COACHING CAREER
1997-98: Fresno State (SA)
1999: Colorado State (GA)
2000: Jacksonville Jaguars (OQC)
2001: USC (TE)
2002-04: USC (WR)
2005-06: USC (PGC/OC)
2007-08: Oakland Raiders (HC)
2009: Tennessee (HC)
2010-13: USC (HC)
2014-16: Alabama (OC/QB)
2017-19: Florida Atlantic (HC)
KIFFIN NUGGETS & RECORDS
Has coached 83 NFL Draft picks, including 18 first round selections
Has mentored three Heisman Trophy winners
Most consecutive wins over AP Top-25 teams: 16 (at USC, 2002-05)
Most consecutive games scoring at least 20 points: 63 (at USC, 2002-06)
Mentored Marqise Lee to fourth-most All-Purpose yards in a single game (469, vs. Arizona, Oct. 27, 2012)
Marqise Lee: 19th-best all-purpose season in NCAA history (16th at the time): 2,693 yards, 206.4 YPG
Reggie Bush won all-purpose title in 2005 before NCAA vacated it: 2,890 yards, 222.3 YPG, most yards since 1991
Matt Leinart: ended career sixth all-time in career passing efficiency (159.5)
Matt Barkley: ended career eighth all-time in career passing TDs (116)
Marqise Lee: 345 receiving yards vs. Arizona on Oct. 27, 2012, still the sixth most in a game in FBS history (fifth at the time)
Dwayne Jarrett: ended career sixth all-time in TD receptions (41)
2005 USC ended ranked fifth all-time in total offense (7,537 yards, 579.8 YPG); 10th all-time right now
2005 USC ended ranked seventh all-time in scoring (638 points, 49.1 PPG); 13th all-time
2005 USC ended champions in total offense (579.8 YPG)
2015 Alabama stands as one of four teams in FBS history with a 2,000-yard rusher (Derrick Henry, 2,219), 2,000-yard passer (Jake Coker, 3,110) and a 1,000-yard receiver (Calvin Ridley, 1,045)
Derrick Henry holds FBS record for most games scoring a TD in a season (15, 2015)
Derrick Henry ended 2015 with fifth-most rushing yards in a season in FBS history (2,219, 147.9 YPG); ranks sixth now
Amari Cooper finished 2014 season with 15th-most receptions in a single season in FBS history (124); ranks 17th now
Amari Cooper finished 2014 season ranked 17th all-time in receiving yards in a single season (1,727); ranks 20th now
FAU’s Devin Singletary’s stands as one of just six in FBS history to rush for 4 TD in one quarter (first quarter, vs. Bethune-Cookman, Sept. 15, 2018)
FAU’s Devin Singletary ended career and still ranks sixth all-time on the FBS rushing TD list (66)
Singletary’s 2017 season ranks third in FBS history with 198 points scored (stat champion); also ranks 10th on the all-time career scoring list (402) and ninth on the career PPG list (10.59)
Kiffin’s 2017 FAU team stands tied as the fifth-best turnaround in FBS history with a seven game improvement
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.