Lane Kiffin’s antics hurt Ole Miss

November 15, 2021
Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin walks down the sideline during his team's game against Texas A&M at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
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It’s easy to get too high or too low after each week’s results in college football. Such is the nature of the sport that breeds emotional responses based on what happens positively or negatively every Saturday.

That’s why we’re here. A step back from the action can provide perspective that rightfully will temper some of the misplaced enthusiasm from positive performances and lift up those feeling down in the dumps after negative results from the weekend.

Week 11 had plenty of examples on both sides of the coin. Here are the five biggest overreactions from the action on the field.

Lane Kiffin’s antics hurt his team

While Kiffin has noticeably matured in his second tenure as an SEC coach, he still likes to dabble in social media fun and tweak his fellow coaches. Ahead of Mississippi’s big game Saturday against visiting Texas A&M, he even took the time to appear as the guest picker on ESPN’s “College GameDay.”

All of this off-field stuff certainly has raised the profile of his program and works to sell it better to recruits. What works better is results on the field. Kiffin has absolutely delivered this for the Rebels. This was a program without a winning record since 2013 when he took over last year. Ole Miss went 5-5 against an SEC-only schedule with one of the country’s worst Power Five defenses. This season, the unit is in the middle of the pack and the result is an 8-2 record and ranking in the top 10. 

A New Year’s Six bowl seems likely and there’s no doubt the Rebels are poised to be trouble for the rest of the SEC as long as Kiffin is there. The question for Ole Miss is how long it can keep him there given his name being thrown around for every high-profile opening.

OBSERVATIONS:Why does Penn State, Franklin keeps losing big games?

HIGHS AND LOWS:Winners and losers for Week 11 in college football

Michigan can’t beat Ohio State

The streak by the Buckeyes is now eight games and six of those losses have been under Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh. This Michigan team seems different than the ones that have lost by double figures in the last four meetings.

Cade McNamara has been solid at quarterback in the hostile road environments of Michigan State and Penn State. The running game is averaging 225 yards per game, giving the offense balance against an Ohio State defense that has been leaky at times.

The real cause for optimism is how well the Wolverines are playing on defense. Ohio State is averaging almost 44 points in those matchups against Harbaugh. While the Buckeyes are going to score, Michigan can limit them enough with its home crowd in its favor to keep this game closer than expected.

SEC move is slam dunk for Oklahoma, Texas

Maybe the Sooners and Longhorns shouldn’t be in such a hurry to get out of the Big 12 before 2025 with the state of both programs on shaky ground. Yeah, the certainty of money and recruiting potential made the decision mostly obvious, it’s not going to be smooth sailing.

Oklahoma clearly is in the better position of the two programs, but there are many concerns for a team that had its 17-game win streak end Saturday. Physically, the Sooners were beat up by Baylor. It was the second consecutive week they failed to rush for 100 yards. An offensive line full of decorated recruits isn’t producing. The Bears ran for 296 – an indictment of the defense that hasn’t met expectations. Getting strong at the line of scrimmage is going to be critical against the defenses and road environments OU will face in the new conference. The loss should be a wake-up call for Lincoln Riley. We’ll see if he answers it with a different approach.

The problems for Texas obviously are way more significant. The Longhorns are in a free fall and the honeymoon with Steve Sarkisian’s tenure is over. The expected offensive juggernaut hasn’t materialized, though having those expectations in his first season with personnel nowhere near what he had at Alabama was unrealistic. The same is true on defense. It’s not good and will take time. Patience, though, isn’t a virtue in Austin and giving Sark time to put his stamp on the program is unrealistic. As crazy as it seems, there might be a different coach on the sideline even if the move happens in less than two years.

Cincinnati will cruise to American Athletic title

Even though the field has been mostly cleared, these last three weeks are not going to be a walk in the park for the Bearcats as they try to make history in being the first Group of Five school in the College Football Playoff.  The stretch starts with SMU this week. The Mustangs dipped with two consecutive losses, but certainly has the capability of winning Saturday in Cincinnati with their offense.

The trickiest game might be the regular-season finale at East Carolina. The Pirates are quietly playing some good football with three consecutive wins. The situation sets up nicely if the Bearcats are looking ahead to the conference title game and not expecting a significant resistance. 

No. 17 Houston will be the opponent if Cincinnati reaches the championship game. The Cougars have won nine in a row and rank in the top 10 in scoring offense and total defense, indicating the balance they have. They’ll have plenty of motivation, too, with a win likely giving them a berth in the New Year’s Six.

None of these games are going to be easy and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Cincinnati slips up.

Jimmy Lake had enough time at Washington

Just 13 games into his tenure, Lake was dismissed Sunday on the same day his one-game suspension for contacting one of his players on the sideline was ending. There can be no denying this season hasn’t gone as expected for the Huskies. They started in the preseason poll and quickly fell out with a loss to Montana in their opener.

It didn’t get much better with five more losses in the next nine games, putting them one more defeat of failing to qualify for a bowl. Lake certainly deserved to be on the hot seat for this and the incident last week. It’s worth noting, though, that last year Washington went 3-1 in its truncated COVID-19 season and qualified for the Pac-12 title game before an outbreak knocked the team out of the game. 

You’d have thought Lake would get next season to turn things around given the totality of the situation. That didn’t happen, leaving the athletic department with an important search that it needs to nail to get the program turned around.

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