The relationship between Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin dates back much further than Saturday’s Alabama-Ole Miss matchup. It was Saban, who gave Kiffin an opportunity as his offensive coordinator (2014-16) and helped him revive his coaching career after a failed head coaching stint at Southern Cal.
Kiffin was able to parlay his coordinator job with the Crimson Tide into the head coaching gig at Florida Atlantic University, which eventually led to him ending up in Oxford as the Rebels head coach.
Kiffin, appearing on the SEC Network Saturday morning, said that he would cherish this matchup with Saban, as it could very well be the final between the two. According to On3, Kiffin thanked Saban for helping him rebound after a “rock bottom” time in his life.
Without Saban, very much like Steve Sarkisian, there’s a chance that Kiffin may not be where he is today. And he very much recognizes that, showing his gratitude towards the legendary Alabama coach.
“I have so much appreciation for what Nick Saban did for me. I love going against him and seeing [him] before the game,” said Kiffin, via On3.
“So, we’re very excited for this opportunity today—and you never know how many more you’ve got,” Kiffin added. “Maybe this is our last time. So, we’ll be very excited for this opportunity today, and [have] so much respect for Coach and the Alabama football program.”
This doesn’t seem like a gamesmanship tactic for Kiffin, but more so preparing for the very real possibility that this is the last time he coaches against Saban, as the SEC is set to eliminate divisions for the 2024 season, once Texas And Oklahoma join.