“Get your popcorn ready.”
Four seemingly harmless words muttered by Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin prior to the team’s game against Alabama.
The question posed to Kiffin that spawned this incredible answer, which Kiffin definitely didn’t practice in the mirror this morning, was essentially, “Do you have any special plans for the Crimson Tide today?” or “Have you whipped up anything special for your game plan today taking on one of the toughest teams in the country?” That’s a pretty basic question.
Obviously, Kiffin doesn’t want to give away any of his tactics before the game starts, so it was expected that we’d receive a pretty indirect answer, but man… “Get your popcorn ready?” That adds some extra flavor to the drama stew. That adds some hype! Now, Mr. Kiffin, you have me excited. I’m not an Ole Miss fan, but I can imagine how intrigued they are by that answer. I’m expecting trick plays, fumblerooskis, ingenuity on the play-calling side, all sorts of wonderful things out of your team now...
Then, you come out and trail by 28 at half. I’ll give you props for having the guts to go for it on fourth down and even converting twice, but five times, including once in your own territory? Now, you’re going too far. You’re at like a nine, Lane. I’m gonna need you at like a six, okay? I like the intensity, but after scoring zero points in the first half, you may have gone a little too far with your promise at the beginning of the game.
Ole Miss fans definitely got their popcorn out. While they were probably expecting to see a good action flick with tons of twists and turns that would leave them satisfied even if they didn’t get the ending they wanted, they instead got a comedy. Not even a good Leslie Nielsen-style comedy. They got a Jack and Jill-type comedy — the type of comedy that makes you want to leave the theater early and go day-drinking.
All in all, I can’t blame Kiffin for having confidence. You’re gonna need a ton of that if you want to take down Alabama. Kiffin was trying to do something that no other former Saban assistant had done in 24 tries. Kiffin did give Saban his all in 2020, throwing everything he had at Alabama and giving the eventual national champs a run for their money, although ultimately losing by a final of 63-48. However, Saban isn’t someone who forgets. He doesn’t take any opponent lightly, and he wants to squeeze any and all hope that any opposing team might have out of them until their bodies run dry.
Kiffin, I commend you. While most other coaches would probably try to lower expectations ahead of a game against Alabama, you went out there and made a promise. You promised to give the fans a show. You looked pretty good on the first drive, too, before getting stopped short on a 4th-and-1 in the red zone.
With that kind of success early against a team that’s only really been tested once all season, I’d find it difficult not to feel good about the rest of the game too, but you should’ve known better. You were already on the hot seat (not steaming, but definitely lukewarm), due to all the potential your team showed last year plus the fact that almost everyone was returning, but this showing just isn’t going to cut it.