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Lane Kiffin and Nick Saban exchange compliments…and look to avoid the ‘rat poison’

Lane Kiffin and Nick Saban exchange compliments…and look to avoid the ‘rat poison’

OXFORD, Miss. — Neither Lane Kiffin nor Nick Saban seem to be a fan of “rat poison.” That is the term the two use to refer to an overindulgence of compliments. 

They do not like it for their own teams, but neither are shy about lofting a Terminex grenade at one another. 

Monday, Kiffin was asked how Alabama has sustained its dominance over the past decade or so. He had a simple answer. 

Nick Saban. Alabama’s been around a long time. They haven’t won like this for a long time or win big for a long time. It’s not like it’s just the school, it’s one person.”

Lane Kiffin on Bama’s sustained dominance

Kiffin should know Saban’s skills. After being dismissed as the head coach at Southern Cal, Kiffin resurfaced as offensive coordinator at Alabama under Saban.  

The Crimson Tide coach offered his bit of extermination saying he learned a lot from his time with Kiffin. 

“We kind of took on the task, when he came here, of changing the whole offense to be more spread, to be more (run-pass-option)-oriented, to use motions and formations to create issues and problems for the defense,” said Saban.

And he did a marvelous job of that when he was here. He’s continued to build on it. But I’d say I learned that from him because we sort of made that change so we all had to get together on how we were going to do things and what we were going to do. He did a really good job of that. He’s very bright, really good play-caller. So I learned a lot of offensive football from him.” 

Nick Saban on Lane Kiffin

That comment from Saban came from his Monday press conference this week, but the praise he has for Kiffin was on display back at SEC Media Days. 

“Lane did a fantastic job for us when he was the offensive coordinator,” Saban said in Hoover.

“Lane had always been the same philosophy-wise as we were in terms of pro-style football. And because of what Ole Miss — and and it’s ironic he’s at Ole Miss now — had done and beaten us a couple of times running the spread, running RPOs, running a lot of screens and things that were difficult to defend because of the rule of blocking downfield when the ball’s thrown behind the line of scrimmage and we weren’t utilizing some of those things which I thought put us at a disadvantage and Lane really hadn’t done much of that stuff either, so when he came in, I said, ‘Look, we want to change this, we need to research this. You’re smart , we can do this.’ And he actually did implement that and was the first one to sort of change how we did things on offense and it enhanced our ability to score more points, so he did a really good job.” 

Yet the x’s and o’s are just a part of coaching.  

To paraphrase an old coach, “The thing that wins football games is football players. If mine are better than yours, chances are I will win.” 

Kiffin believes Saban’s ability to get players enhances his coaching abilities. 

So it’s about the way that he works and probably more important than anything, the way he recruits. They got great players. Last year we played them here and they had six first-rounders. We had two draft picks [total]. He’s dominated in recruiting, and now with free agency, he gets to add onto that. He said it himself when first asked about free agency, it was going to make the rich richer, and he was right.” 

Lane Kiffin 

Free agency is the way Kiffin describes the NCAA’s transfer portal. It can allow a player for one team to leave for another and be eligible to play right away. This season Alabama added linebacker Henry To’oto’o from Tennessee and wide receiver Jameson Williams from Ohio State. 

So how does Ole Miss compete with the Crimson Tide Saturday? Kiffin offered this bit of rat poison to the Bama program. 

“Like I said last week, I don’t see any holes in (Alabama),” said Kiffin. “Like I referred to, with free agency, if they did have them at receiver or linebacker, they filled them. So it will be very challenging, not just to play them, but over there.” 

Not to be outdone, Saban offered this pesticide salvo about Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral. 

“Matt Corral, he played really well against us last year,” Saban said.

He’s very elusive, he can extend plays, he’s a very accurate passer. He can make plays with his feet. He’s as talented as anyone we’ve seen run or pass in a long time.” 

Nick Saban on Matt Corral

It may not be the team that plays the best Saturday that wins this game. 

It might be the team that refused to take the rat poison. 

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for, and as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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