Lane Kiffin is back to antagonizing opposing SEC coaches, and this time he may have irritated his former boss.
Kiffin, who served as Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator with the Tide from 2014-2016, suggested on Sunday that Alabama secondary Travaris Robinson was calling the signals on defense rather than coordinator Kevin Steele.
Saban debunked Kiffin’s suggestion on Monday, explaining that Alabama changed how the signals were coming into the game against South Florida, but that Steele has “all the defensive coordinator responsibilities.”
The timing couldn’t be worse — or better — for Kiffin’s remarks depending on how one thinks it might affect Saban and the Tide as they prepare to host Ole Miss at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in a CBS nationally televised game.
Alabama (2-1) opened as a 6.5-point favorite to beat the Rebels (3-0) for what would be an eighth-straight year dating back to a 2015 loss in Tuscaloosa when current Auburn coach Hugh Freeze was still the Ole Miss head coach.
Kiffin and the Rebels played Alabama tight last season, the teams tied up at 24-24 as they entered the fourth quarter of a 30-24 Crimson Tide win in Oxford, Miss.
Ole Miss faded from there, losing its next three games to finish the 2022 campaign 8-5 after working its way into the Top 10.
Kiffin said at his Monday press opportunity that his comments were innocent, as he had been asked about going up against Kevin Steele-coached defense.
“I wasn’t really trying to start this big thing,” he said. “We saw things on the TV copy just where it was different, first off, of what the play looked like, the calls and stuff.
“We looked into that further. It’s not a secret, people in this building know each other. Obviously we got some information that way also.”
Indeed, Pete Golding left his five-year post as Alabama’s defensive coordinator after last season and now oversees the Ole Miss defense.
This will be the Crimson Tide’s first game outside of the Top 10 rankings in the AP poll since 2015, snapping a string of 128 in a row.
Only the Miami Hurricanes’ program of 1985-93 had a longer Top run with 137 straight polls.
It’s worth noting that 2015 Alabama team that dropped out of the Top 10 moved back into the Top 10 one week later.
The Tide went on to win the national championship that season, which was Kirby Smart’s last as the Tide’s defensive coordinator before he came to Georgia as head coach.