Alabama football: Another hyped showdown. Another Tide beatdown. What's an SEC West rival to do?
One of Lane Kiffin’s biggest strengths led to the end of any chance Ole Miss would upset Alabama on Saturday.
Kiffin and the Rebels managed just 21 points in the 42-21 loss in the highly-anticipated matchup. The game was never close. It seemed as if Alabama could have scored more had they needed to. They didn’t.
As the contest ended, it was a stark reminder of what all needs to happen to actually topple the Tide. It’s that whole “topple” part that seems impossible. Why? Read on.
Thanks to a coaching stopover by Kiffin, Alabama head coach Nick Saban decided to ditch the ground game for a quick-striking offense that would scare opposing defenses. The good news for Saban is that it worked. The bad news for the rest of the college football world is Alabama can field better players via their historic recruiting run. Then, if things go bad one day, the Crimson Tide can score quickly, then drain their opponent’s possessions. It’s a slow bludgeoning with a high-powered offense. How much torture can one person endure?
Oh, and just when you thought that Saban might dig his heels in the sand against players being able to transfer and play immediately, he welcomes transfers and they play a key role on offense and defense.
Kiffin was aggressive throughout the game on Saturday because he had to be. He was aggressive in the first half to put pressure on Alabama. Then, he had to become aggressive to just stay in the game. That brings us to another attribute of his coaching style: His players mimic his demeanor. They seemed to sense concern like Kiffin.
There are two ways for Ole Miss to be on an even, level playing field with Saban, within the rules of course. I’ve got my eye on you Hugh Freeze.
Ole Miss has to win its fair share of recruiting battles and show Alabama that the talent gap can be closed. Ole Miss has to give Kiffin that sort of patience. It won’t just take a recruiting cycle or two, it will take three, four or more. There is also one more possibility. If Kiffin can somehow sign a generational player then things can change.
Well, one of those types of players just happened to be in attendance on Saturday when former Ole Miss quarterback Eli Manning extended an invite to his brother, Cooper Manning. Maybe you’ve heard of Cooper’s son, Arch Manning. He’s the top pro-style quarterback in the 2023 class at Isidore Newman that has shown flashes of being an elite player. And did I mention that the only reason Peyton Manning went to UT was when it was determined that Cooper Manning couldn’t play football for Ole Miss because of medical reasons? With Archie, Cooper and Eli having attended Ole Miss, it seems the Rebels will be in the hunt for Arch. That’s what SEC teams have to do to beat Alabama. Either score a true game-changing player or began beating Alabama in recruiting on a regular basis. The latter seems a little tougher to me.
The debate has certainly erupted in my household about Alabama. Does the Crimson Tide’s dominance bore fans or do people want to see history unfold on their very television in real time? You can decide.
Kiffin had the right idea when he took over Tennessee before the 2009 season. He loaded that coaching staff with recruiters — coaching was a plus. After all, Kiffin was handling the offense and his defensive staff was strong, led by NFL legend Monte Kiffin, who just happened to be Lane’s father. As for that staff, they could recruit against any program in the nation.
Can Kiffin really recruit that kind of athlete to Ole Miss on a regular basis? It would be better for the SEC and all of college football to see Alabama challenged. Beat Bama in recruiting and you’ve got a chance. Hope to get lucky top-flight prospect with ties to your school or build a monster staff in recruiting
Those are both easier said than done.