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Lane Kiffin On What Has Changed In SEC Since He Left Alabama

A closeup of Lane Kiffin in an Alabama visor. He is now the Ole Miss football head coach.

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 15: Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin of the Alabama Crimson Tide looks on during the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on October 15, 2016 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Lane Kiffin is entering his first year as head coach of the Ole Miss football program. This will be his third go-around coaching in the SEC, and he's seen some changes over the last few years.

Kiffin had an infamous one-year run as head coach at Tennessee, after he was let go by the Oakland Raiders. He left for the USC head coaching job following the 2009 season with the Vols. In 2014, after flaming out in Los Angeles, Nick Saban brought Kiffin on, eventually making him the Alabama offensive coordinator.

Kiffin modernized the Alabama offense in many ways, giving way to the spread offense commanded by Tua Tagovailoa that we've seen over the last few years. He left the program in 2016 just ahead of the College Football Playoff, being relieved of his duties after he accepted the head coaching job at FAU. He went 26-13 in three years with the Owls, winning the 2017 and 2019 Conference USA titles.

Now, he's back in the SEC for the first time since 2016. Obviously, he hasn't coached his first game with the Rebels yet—that comes on Saturday—but he has noticed some differences in the league from afar. He discussed how he believes things have gotten more "top-heavy" in the league during a recent conference call with media members.

“I think that, you know, some programs over the last few years... I don’t want to name them because I may leave someone out and someone will get mad but you know who the perennial powers are, they have recruited at such a high level that it seems to me there’s a big difference in the rosters at the top, especially last year, and the rosters at the bottom of the league," Kiffin said, via Saturday Down South.

There is definitely a pretty defined upper crust of the SEC over the last few years. Alabama football is virtually always there, and Georgia has been for a while now. LSU presents an interesting counter, at least to a point. The Tigers have certainly recruited at the level that Kiffin describes, but had struggled to execute at a championship level until last year's breakout national championship season.

In any case, he is probably right. There may not be quite the level of depth that you had when Hugh Freeze and Dan Mullen were fielding competitive Mississippi squads, Steve Spurrier had things rolling at South Carolina, Missouri was a regular division title contender, and other schools seemed to cycle through that second tier of teams.

Lane Kiffin begins his Ole Miss football tenure on Saturday, hosting Florida, one of the favorites in the SEC East. Saturday's game kicks off at noon ET.