SEC football: There’s no denying the history between Saban & Kiffin.
The general public happens to be intrigued by the classic feud between a man and his boss- mostly because we’ve all been there one time or another.
But Lane Kiffin seems to take it a step further by ‘trolling’ his former chairman on social media and public press conferences.
Let’s start from the very beginning- when Kiffin took the role as offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2014.
The start of a new SEC football rivalry
When word got out that Saban had hired the journeyman coach, fans and media flocked to social media outlets to express their mixed emotions.
How could it be that Kiffin weaseled his way back into the realm of SEC football after pulling the rug out from under Tennessee’s feet just four years prior?
Sure, Kiffin’s offensive prowess was unprecedented, but his proven unfaithfulness to collegiate programs seemed to outweigh his coaching reputation. No one expected Kiffin to call Tuscaloosa home, especially while Nick Saban was alive and well.
Under Saban’s leadership, Alabama had earned a no-nonsense reputation that valued integrity and dignity- two words that would not be used in the same sentence with Lane Kiffin.
But despite the unlikely pairing, Saban gave the kid a shot. After all, the Tide finished an underwhelming 4th in offensive production in the SEC just the year before.
It was time for renovation.
And it wouldn’t take long for Kiffin to make an impact as Saban’s right hand man.
In 2014, Kiffin was named a finalist for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top college football assistant. The following year, Alabama enjoyed a national championship victory over the Clemson Tigers.
While the two proved to pack a deadly punch as a double-headed monster, tensions would eventually get the best of their unlikely relationship.
Truthfully, it was only a matter of time before the massive egos would collide.
And boy, did they collide.
During a last minute fumble against Western Kentucky, cameras keyed in on Saban’s notorious verbal thrashing of Kiffin. It was one of the first times we had seen the two converse in such a heated manner.
According to Phil Savage’s book “4th and Goal Every Day”, Kiffin had made a remark calling one of the Alabama players “dumb” which sparked the confrontation.
Savage writes that Kiffin said into his headset “dumb players make dumb plays.”
Which Saban responded, “NO, dumb offensive coordinators call dumb plays”.
And while the intense exchange was quite entertaining, it would serve as the beginning of a rocky relationship between the two coaches.
Later that year, the two were again spotted arguing during the 2014 Iron Bowl.
It was only a matter of time before the dynamic duo would implode into a major distraction that could all but be ignored.
After reaching the 2017 National Championship game, Saban ultimately decided to part ways with Kiffin.
And while Saban stated that the departure was a mutual decision between him and Kiffin, others were reluctant to believe the premise.
Lane Kiffin had just secured his first head coaching gig since USC, and was subsequently focused on assembling a coaching staff at his newest landing spot.
Instead of directing his attention toward Bama’s title game, Kiffin had indulged in a self-fulfilling prophecy to better prepare his future in Boca Raton.
But it wouldn’t take long for Saban to catch on, which lead to the Bama coach firing Kiffin before the title game even took place.
Alabama ended up losing that game.
And though the separation finally came to fruition, the onslaught of taunts were still yet to come.
Kiffin took to Twitter to taunt his former boss after a photo circulated pinpointing Saban’s ‘hypocrisy’.
Kiffin later stated that he had routinely sent Saban texts, but had yet to recieve a response.
..I wonder why?
Now, here we are, almost three years later and so much has changed. Kiffin now sports his new head coaching role at Ole Miss while Saban continues to man the ship at Alabama.
Would it be foolish to believe that Kiffin partly took the Rebels’ coaching job in spite of Saban? After all, the Rebels and Tide annually find themselves in divisional play.
And what a better way to exact revenge than to claim victory?
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Nonetheless, the two coaches will eventually meet on October 3rd in a game that will mean way more than just a divisional win
Alternatively, the game will signify retribution.
And instead of the annual Iron Bowl matchup or the always entertaining Florida-LSU game, my eyes quickly dart to the duel between two men that share a twisted history which involves championships, success, argumentation and hatred.
Sure, the meeting is far from a game that will equate to gaining the upper hand in the Western division- the Rebels have a long ways to go before they will start competing for division titles.
Instead, the meeting will showcase two men who will stop at nothing to gain traction on one another.
Just be prepared for a good ole fashioned blood bath between a man and his former boss.