OXFORD • Lane Kiffin was officially named the 39th head football coach for Ole Miss on Saturday.
Kiffin just won his second Conference USA Championship in the last three years at Florida Atlantic.
“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Coach Kiffin to the Ole Miss family,” athletics director Keith 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.”
A former head coach with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and with Southern Cal in the Pac-12, Kiffin has also served as head coach for one season at Tennessee and as offensive coordinator for three seasons at Alabama.
He is the son of long-time NFL defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and the brother of Chris Kiffin, a former Ole Miss assistant.
The university will hold a public introduction at 1 p.m. on Monday at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. The event will be open to the public and broadcast live on SEC Network.
Ole Miss finished 4-8 this season under Matt Luke who was 15-21 in three seasons. Luke was fired on Sunday after the Rebels’ 21-20 loss to rival Mississippi State on Thanksgiving night.
AD Carter, less than two weeks after having interim removed from his title, fielded questions about Luke's dismissal on Monday and said he would run a quiet but quick and efficient search with only the assistance of the search firm Ventura Partners.
Carter was adamant that discussions with any candidate would be handled by himself alone.
He said he would target a sitting head coach but would also consider coordinators at Power Five conference schools.
"More than anything we want energy, passion and a track record for success," Carter said. "We want a program builder who can help galvanize and unite Rebel Nation."
As the week played out, sources indicated Carter was targeting Memphis coach Mike Norvell as his top choice with strong interest in Louisiana-Lafayette coach Billy Napier and Kiffin after that.
Even as Carter pursued Norvell, who is expected to be named coach at Florida State, Ole Miss fans through social media and other avenues voiced a preference for Kiffin that surpassed Norvell.
While many Ole Miss fans encouraged the idea of Kiffin to Ole Miss – there was an online petition to make sure the school administration got the message – some key alumni names behind the scenes expressed concerns.
They weren't the only ones.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron, who was 10-25 as Ole Miss coach from 2005-2007, advised Kiffin against the move.
Daily Journal sources said Orgeron told Kiffin a certain "fit" was required to coach at Ole Miss, and he didn't think his long-time friend had that fit.
Orgeron and Kiffin were on the same Southern Cal staff under Pete Carroll from 2001-2004. The last three of those teams went 36-3 and won back-to-back national championships.
That incredible run helped Kiffin become head coach of the Oakland Raiders at just 31 years old. That experiment lasted just 20 games, and Kiffin was fired after a 1-3 start in 2008.
He resurfaced in 2009 as the head coach at Tennessee and went 7-6 and 4-4 and left for USC at the end of the season. Kiffin's Tennessee team, with Orgeron as defensive line coach, lost 42-17 to Ole Miss in Oxford.
Kiffin's time as USC head coach from 2010-2013 included a fast start with eight- and 11-win seasons in 2010 and 2011 with the Trojans not eligible for bowl games because of NCAA sanctions.
His 2012 team was preseason No. 1 in both major polls but finished the season 7-6 and unranked. He was fired after an 0-2 start to Pac-12 play in 2013.
Kiffin rebuilt has brand from 2014-2016 under Nick Saban at Alabama as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given to the nation's top assistant coach, in his first season.
Kiffin took over Florida Atlantic going 11-3 in 2017, 5-7 last year and 9-3 going into today's game.