College Football’s Troll King has been busy this week.
First, Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin suggested that Nick Saban had secretly changed defensive coordinator at Alabama. When Saban irritably denied such a move, he claimed that someone or someone within the Crimson Tide football office had confirmed this to their friends on the Ole Miss staff, regardless of what Saban said publicly.
After upsetting that apple cart — and perhaps sending Saban on a mission to smoke out the leak in the program — Kiffin decided to take to Twitter and just randomly, for no reason, offer his followers a Taylor Swift concert video.
The song? “Castles that crumble.”
Swift has recorded more than 200 songs. This is a relatively deep cut. So why choose that (Lane’s version)?
Let’s go over the text as the 15th-ranked Rebels prepare to visit a 13th-ranked Alabama team that, after a double-digit home loss to Texas and a stumbling performance against South Florida, looks about like one of Saban’s vintage contenders:
I once had an empire in a golden age
I was held in such high esteem, I was amazing
They always cheered when they saw my face
Now I fear I have fallen from grace
And I feel like my castle is collapsing
And I watch all my bridges burn to the ground
And you don’t want to know me
Oh, there’s more.
I was once the great hope for a dynasty
The audience hung on to my words and they trusted me
Their faith was strong, but I went too far
I held that grudge until it tore me apart
The power went to my head and I couldn’t stop
Those I loved tried to help, so I sent them away
And here I sit alone, behind walls of regret
Falling like promises I never kept
This is Taylor Swift, so she doesn’t mince her words. And this is Lane Kiffin, so he doesn’t randomly post a number like that unless he’s trying to poke the 800-pound bear of Tuscaloosa. But even according to Kiffin’s traditional play-to-the-crow ethos, that was quite emphatic.
I used to be great… fallen from grace… power went to my head… my castle is falling apart?
Alabama’s roster consists of 18 former five-star recruits. Ole Miss has one. We’ll find out if hell hath no fury like a seven-time national coach being thwarted by the Swiftie in Oxford.
Give Kiffin so much, he’s not afraid to throw a punch. Most coaches would see a drifting Alabama team and try to quietly sneak into town and steal a rare Bryant-Denny victory.
That’s not Kiffin, though. That’s never been Kiffin.
It’s not that he can’t help himself. It’s that he believes this is the way he helps himself.
He created chaos with the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Vols. If anything, he was too reserved when he coached USC. He has returned as a disruptor at FAU and Ole Miss. It has helped him win 22 of his last 30 games and build a very strong roster that could lead to serious SEC contention this year.
That’s why, when asked at a news conference about Alabama defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, Kiffin claimed that when watching the game footage, it appeared as if Steele had been demoted in favor of cornerbacks coach Tavaris Robinson.
“It seems like there’s been a change there,” Kiffin said. “I don’t know what happened after the Texas game. But you know, our guys looking at the TV copy, schematically in this last game, it certainly looks like T-Rob is calling the defense now.
This was, even by Kiffin standards, an outrageous statement. Is it true? Who knows? Just by suggesting this, Saban was forced to react and possibly throw a grenade into the defensive meetings, at a time when the Tide’s quarterback situation is still in flux.
An obviously disturbed Saban didn’t even wait for a question from reporters before discussing the situation.
“Another thing I hear floating around — I’m sure you’ve seen the same reports I did — is that Kevin Steele is the defensive coordinator,” Saban said. “He has all the defensive coordinator responsibilities. .”
Undeterred, Kiffin noted that he was just answering a question and had no intention of creating “this big thing.”
Then he basically said Alabama staffers confirmed it and leaked secrets.
“We looked into that further,” Kiffin said. “And it’s no secret that the people in these buildings know each other, so we obviously got some information that way.”
Saban is 71. Kiffin is 48. Time is on the Ole Miss coach’s side, but he won’t just let the legend fade away quietly.
Kiffin is also a great defender for Saban. He continually praises him and mocks the media’s suggestions that Alabama’s dynasty is over. After all, it was Saban who helped turn Kiffin’s career around after he was fired by USC.
Kiffin spent three seasons (2014-2016) as Alabama’s offensive coordinator, modernizing the offense and making Tuscaloosa attractive to truly elite quarterbacks, leading to a string of Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagliaova, Mac Jones and Bryce Young.
Saban also fired Kiffin in dramatic fashion after a 2016 College Football Playoff semifinal victory over Washington, partly because Bama scored only 24 points, but also because Kiffin was set to leave to become head coach at FAU. The Tide went on to lose the national title game to Clemson, but Saban never expressed any regrets about canning Kiffin midway through the playoffs.
So maybe it’s complicated.
Or maybe it’s just that Lane is Lane, who dares to say whatever he wants to anyone he wants, including messing with the king and wondering about crumbling castles even before the game is played.
If the tide is indeed wavering, Kiffin has fired his shot. Tuscaloosa awaits.