SEC football is finally back after an almost month-long kickoff delay following COVID-19 delays. Ole Miss and Mississippi State are preparing for their Week One matchups against Florida and LSU, respectively.
With both teams under new coaching staffs with Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss and Mike Leach at Mississippi State, a new — but not unfamiliar — era could be on the horizon for college football in Mississippi.
Before being offered the leading role in Oxford, Kiffin was the head coach at Florida Atlantic where he racked up a 27-13 record in his three years there. Before his stint in Boca Raton, Kiffin coached at USC and Tennessee as well, while also adding an NFL notch to his belt as the Oakland Raiders’ head coach for the 07-08 seasons.
In the last three years, the Rebels went 15-21 under interim-turned-head coach Matt Luke. Following a downward turn after the 2015 Sugar Bowl win, Ole Miss’s football team may be on the upswing.
After a 2019 season packed full of young but inexperienced talent, Ole Miss is returning the majority of its starting lineup. With a variety of skill sets between sophomore John Rhys Plumlee and junior Matt Corral at quarterback, the Rebels have yet to declare either as a starter. Many questions remain in regards to how Kiffin and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby will put together the offense this Saturday.
In Starkville, the Bulldogs are getting ready to take on the reigning national champions in Baton Rouge. Two-time national coach of the year Mike Leach will be tasked with leading the charge this year after the Bulldogs lost 15 of their offensive and defensive starters.
Leach’s head coaching career dates back to 1989 with a brief stint coaching for the pro Pori Bears in Finland. He got his NCAA coaching start at Texas Tech from 2000-2009, where he notched an 84-43 record before his ultimate firing. He was then hired at Washington State’s head coach and finished the 2019 season with a 55-47 record overall before being hired for the top job at State.
State is returning four offensive starters, including running back Kylin Hill, who received the 2019 Conerly Trophy honoring the best football student-athlete in Mississippi. That’s one of many accolades Hill accumulated after a standout 2019 season, notably a first-team All-SEC nod from the Associated Press.
Kickoff for the Rebels’ face-off with the Florida Gators is set for 11 a.m. in Oxford, and will be broadcast on ESPN. The Bulldogs will meet the Tigers at 2:30 in Death Valley, and the game will be televised on CBS.