The excitement of Ole Miss’s 2020 football season under first-year head coach Lane Kiffin is evident throughout the LOU community and beyond.
Ole Miss Athletics went through some big changes in 2019.
Former athletic director Ross Bjork left Ole Miss back in May for the same position at Texas A&M. Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks appointed Keith Carter as the interim AD. The university was in search of a new chancellor before an athletic director could be named. Once Glenn Boyce became chancellor he began a search committee to find an AD.
On Friday, Nov. 22 Boyce announced that the interim tag would be removed before Carter’s title and he would lead the athletic department.
“We were looking for someone who wants to be at Ole Miss, and who believes all of our programs can compete and win at every level,” Boyce said. “Carter is absolutely the best person to lead Ole Miss Athletics to a new era of success.”
During this time, the football team was heading into the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State with a 4-7 overall record and a 2-5 mark in conference action. The Rebels, with only two conference wins, were against Arkansas and Vanderbilt. Coach Matt Luke’s squad was looking for a fifth win to possibly get to an APR bowl game.
As Carter was introduced as the AD, he said he was behind Luke and returning the Golden Egg back to Oxford.
Ole Miss and Mississippi State battled back and forth for 60 minutes, but the Bulldogs pulled out a 21-20 victory after an unsportsmanlike penalty on Elijah Moore occurred after the game tie-in touchdown.
On Dec. 1, the news broke that Luke had been fired as head coach after three seasons at the helm. During his tenure, he led his alma mater to a 15-21 record.
“After evaluating the overall trajectory of our football program, we did not see enough momentum on the field and determined a change is necessary in order for our student-athletes to compete at the highest level,” Carter said. “While improvements were evident in certain aspects of the program, we are judged ultimately by our record, and, unfortunately, we did not meet the standard of success that we expect from our program. We will always be grateful to Coach Luke for his leadership, particularly from a recruiting, academic and overall culture standpoint. At the same time, winning is important, and we know that we can compete for championships at Ole Miss.”
Carter began a quick search for the 39th head coach for the Rebels. Less than a week later, the Lane train was about to pull into Oxford.
Lane Kiffin arrived in town after three seasons at Florida Atlantic in which the Owls won their second C-USA Championship.
“I couldn’t be more excited to welcome Coach Kiffin to the Ole Miss family,” Carter said. “As we entered this process, we were looking for energy, innovativeness and a program builder who could excite our student-athletes and fans. Coach Kiffin checked every box and is a home run for our program. I look forward to locking arms with him to take Ole Miss Football to a championship level.”
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