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Lane Kiffin has his career on the upswing at Ole Miss

Lane Kiffin
Lane Kiffin (AP Images)

It's been a decade since Lane Kiffin was unceremoniously fired as USC’s coach in the wee hours near the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport after the Trojans got blasted at Arizona State.

In retrospect, when Kiffin reviews his career, that might have been the low point – although his 20-game NFL coaching career and his short stint at Tennessee were not bright spots, either.

Since the USC axing, though, Kiffin has found redemption and incredible success first as Alabama’s offensive coordinator and then as Florida Atlantic’s head coach, where he went 26-13 in three seasons before getting the Ole Miss job.

It’s in Oxford – of all places – where Kiffin’s career has taken off.

The numbers are actually quite compelling and intriguing for Kiffin, who has led the Rebels to an 8-1 record this season with a win over Texas A&M last weekend heading into a showdown against big, bad Georgia on Saturday.

Ole Miss is ranked No. 10 nationally in the AP poll, its only loss coming at Alabama, where coach Nick Saban simply doesn’t lose to old assistants, let alone many others.

Kiffin’s success at Ole Miss has been eye-opening.


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Not counting the shortened 2020 COVID season, he’s 26-9 with the Rebels, bested only by Saban and Georgia’s Kirby Smart as far as winning percentage during his time at Ole Miss.

Since being fired at LAX, Kiffin as a head coach has won 71% of his games, 74% not counting that COVID season.

Production on the field has been incredible this season.

Quarterback Jaxson Dart is fifth in the conference in passing yards but has fewer attempts than any of the four QBs ahead of him, 60 fewer than South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler and 51 fewer than Georgia’s Carson Beck.

Running back Quinshon Judkins is fourth in the SEC in rushing yards with 793 yards and he leads the conference with 12 rushing touchdowns. Ole Miss has three of the top 11 receivers in the SEC. Only LSU has two and no other school has more than one in that top group.

Ole Miss is third in the SEC behind LSU and Georgia in total offense.

And it’s not only that the Rebels are performing well on offense, the specialty of Kiffin, arguably the best play-caller in college football.

Ole Miss' defensive stats in the SEC also are impressive: Third in tackles, second in sacks, first in sack yardage and only one interception from the lead in interceptions. The Rebels are balling both ways.

Recruiting is going well, too.

“The atmosphere in Oxford is just unmatched,” BYU commit Tre Alexander said after his visit for the Texas A&M game.

“The team has so much fun playing football it’s something that’s contagious. The fans are just as passionate, if not more passionate than the players.”




Others feel the same way.

Offensive lineman Keyshawn Blackstock, who’s in the transfer portal, has moved Ole Miss into his top two with NC State after being in Oxford over the weekend. Arkansas commit Charleston Collins is a possible flip candidate. Top 2026 quarterback Noah Grubbs has the Rebels among his favorites as well after being on campus.

Ole Miss sits at No. 19 in the team recruiting rankings with huge victories landing five-star defensive end Kamarion Franklin over numerous SEC opponents and loading up with other elite defensive linemen. With Mississippi State struggling, more could be on the way.

“The crowd was into it, and when they won the place was electric and loud,” Grubbs said. “It had a small town feel to it but it was jam-packed.”

If Ole Miss finishes the regular season as expected – let’s say a loss to Georgia and wins over Louisiana-Monroe and Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl – Kiffin will have won double-digit games in two of the last three seasons.

That three-year run would be the best stretch for Ole Miss since the early 1960s under former coach John Vaught.

Vaught has his name on the stadium.