Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin Named Finalist for Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award
HOUSTON– (Release) After leading the Rebels to their first 10-win regular season in program history, Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin has been honored as a finalist for the American Heart Association’s Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award, the organization announced Tuesday. The award is given annually to a college football coach for contributions that make the sport better for athletes and fans alike by demonstrating grit, integrity and a winning approach to coaching and life- both on and off the field. It is the only college coaching honor selected after all postseason bowl games and the National Championship have been played. Kiffin’s second year in Oxford was once again highlighted by one of college football’s most exciting offenses. For the second straight season, the Rebels lead the SEC in total offense at over 500 yards per game heading into bowl season. Ole Miss has eclipsed 600 yards of total offense 19 times under Kiffin after hitting that mark just 16 times in the program’s history before his arrival. However, in year two, Kiffin proved he isn’t just a one-dimensional coach. The Rebel defense ranks as one of the top-five most-improved units in the FBS, allowing 13.3 fewer points per game this season compared to 2020. Kiffin quickly turned the Rebels into an offensive machine in 2020, leading the program to an Outback Bowl win over No. 7 Indiana and a 5-5 record against an all-SEC schedule. Ole Miss ranked top 20 in the FBS in nine different offensive categories, including having the No. 3 team in the country in total offense, shattering the school record with 555.5 yards per game. The Rebels broke the SEC record for total offense in conference games (562.4 ypg), besting LSU’s mark of 550.0 yards per game set during the Tigers’ run to a national title in 2019. The offensive explosion by the Rebels came as no surprise, as Kiffin has shown a propensity in helping turn programs around. In his first season at FAU, USC and Tennessee, Kiffin’s team improved in win differential (+3.33), scoring (+10.2), passing (+34.5 ypg) and rushing (+51.3 ypg). Kiffin, who won two Conference USA titles in three seasons at Florida Atlantic, has a dozen years of head coaching experience, including 10 years at the NCAA level where he has posted an all-time record of 76-41. The Coach of the Year will be announced live from Houston’s Post Oak Hotel on Jan. 12, 2022, during the awards ceremony with proceeds benefiting the American Heart Association. The Coach of the Year award is voted on by the National Sports Media Association, current NCAA College football coaches, former Coach of the Year Award winners, the Bryant Awards’ Executive Leadership Team and the Bryant Family.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
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.