Lane Kiffin has long credited Nick Saban for helping to reenergize Kiffin’s head-coaching career, but that doesn’t mean Kiffin is opposed to poking fun at his old boss.
Kiffin jokingly went into full Saban mode at his news conference Monday when asked if he is a candidate for the Auburn head-coaching job and whether he has talked to anybody at Auburn.
Kiffin said coaching rumors are a “product of your players’ playing well” and said there have been no conversations with Auburn. Then he quipped, “I wanted to say what I learned from my mentor: That if you guys are going to keep asking this, I’m going to have to tell you, ‘I’m not going to be the head coach at Alabama,’ OK? So stop asking me.'”
Kiffin sported his best Saban hand gesture in answering the question, then grinned and said, “I wasn’t supposed to say that, but I just had to.”
Kiffin, who worked under Saban as Alabama’s offensive coordinator from 2014 to ’16, was referring to Saban’s quote from 2006, when he was the Miami Dolphins’ head coach. After reports linking Saban to the Alabama head-coaching vacancy circulated for a month, Saban said on Dec. 21, “I guess I have to say it: I’m not going to be the Alabama coach.”
Two weeks later, on Jan. 3, 2007, Saban was named the Alabama coach.
It’s hardly the first time that Kiffin has needled Saban, be it tweeting about “rat poison” and the “ass-chewings” he used to receive from Saban on the Alabama sideline or joking that three years of working under Saban were like “dog years.”
More recently, Kiffin told ESPN that he appreciates Saban “way more now that I’m gone than I did when I was there” and said, “I wouldn’t be where I am now had it not been for him.”
Kiffin, in his first season as Ole Miss’ coach, has led the Rebels to a 4-4 record. They can finish with a winning record in the regular season with a win Saturday at LSU.
Ole Miss ranks third in the SEC in scoring offense (39.8 points per game), behind Alabama (49.5) and Florida (41.2). Earlier this season, Alabama beat Ole Miss 63-48 in a game that saw Kiffin’s Rebels gain 647 yards, the most Alabama has ever allowed in a game.
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