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Paul Finebaum Names 'Incredibly Underrated' Head Coach

An extreme closeup of ESPN college football analyst Paul Finebaum from the Cotton Bowl in Texas in 2019.

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 31: TV/radio personality Paul Finebaum of the SEC Network speaks on air before the Goodyear Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Paul Finebaum doesn't believe Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin gets his proper due.

In Monday's "McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning” radio segment on WJOX (h/t Saturday Down South's Adam Spencer), the college football analyst called Kiffin an "incredibly underrated" coach. He opined that Kiffin isn't as highly regarded because his jovial personality doesn't fit the prototype of other hard-nosed college coaches.

“If you take away the sideshow of Lane Kiffin — all the drama, all the Twitter, all the fun stuff that we all laugh about and joke about — the guy is a terrific football coach,” Finebaum said. “He is incredibly underrated, and if you took all of that away and Lane Kiffin was a serious, dour guy like some of these other folks who are in college football, we would probably rank him among the top coaches in the country."

Finebaum also claimed that Kiffin continues to get unfairly maligned for his USC tenure ending on rocky terms. His Trojans entered the 2012 season ranked No. 1 in the nation, but they finished 7-6. They fired him five games into the 2013 campaign.

“We look at his past and we hold that against him but you can’t hold against Lane Kiffin what he did 10 years ago at Southern Cal," Finebaum added. "You can’t hold against him the meltdown at Alabama or some of this other stuff. The guy is a fantastic play-caller. He’s obviously done a great job of organizing."

Finebaum didn't always hold Kiffin's coaching acumen in such high regards. He once recalled to Dan Patrick that he labeled Kiffin "the Miley Cyrus of college football" on College GameDay and said the USC coach should lose his job if the Trojans didn't defeat Arizona. They lost, and the program fired Kiffin.

Two weeks later he encountered Kiffin, who sent Finebaum a Cyrus song after their conversation.

Kiffin appears to have earned Finebaum's adoration after leading the Rebels to a 10-3 record during his second season. They'll look to come into the 2022 season like a wrecking ball and make a major statement in the SEC.