A top target has emerged in Ole Miss‘ coaching search as FAU coach Lane Kiffin is reportedly finalizing a deal to become the next coach of the Rebels, according to ESPN. Kiffin, who is leading the Owls in the Conference USA Championship Game on Saturday, could reach a deal with Ole Miss as early as Saturday night, according to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic.
CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd has confirmed that Kiffin is the Rebels’ top candidate for their open head coaching job.
FAU faces UAB on in the Conference USA Championship Game. Kiffin just wrapped up his third season in Boca Raton, Florida, where he led the Owls to a 9-3 record. He is 25-13 overall at FAU.
Should the deal come to fruition, it would mark a notable return to the SEC for Kiffin, who previously coached one season at Tennessee in 2009. He led the Vols to a 7-6 record that year, including an appearance in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. However, he left soon thereafter to become the coach at USC.
Kiffin was fired by the Trojans in the middle of the 2013 campaign but reemerged as Alabama’s offensive coordinator the following season. For three years, he helped usher the Crimson Tide offense into the modern era of spread offenses. Under Kiffin’s direction, three different players at Alabama (wide receiver Amari Cooper, running back Derrick Henry and quarterback Jalen Hurts) won the SEC Offensive Player of the Year award. In 2016, the Tide finished 15th nationally in points per game.
Prior to emerging as Ole Miss’ top target, Kiffin was linked to the vacancy at Arkansas, which fired coach Chad Morris earlier in the season.
Ole Miss fired coach Matt Luke following a season-ending loss to Mississippi State. Ole Miss will face Tennessee in a cross-division SEC game in 2021.