So, how about Lane Kiffin?
If they're throwing money around, the Ducks should take a look at a top offensive coach who knows what Oregon and Nike can do together
The best story I wrote this year came together at the last minute because of a 5 a.m. call from Lane Kiffin two weeks before signing day. It went to the fourth ring and I apologized because a Mississippi area code at that hour can be a bit confusing when unexpected.
Kiffin called because I sent Mississippi’s media director an email a week earlier seeing if Lane, for whatever reason, wanted to reminisce about a recruiting battle he lost a decade earlier, when Oregon snagged De’Anthony Thomas from USC in the final days before signing day. It was a recruiting win so big for Oregon that even 10 years later Thomas’ signing paid dividends for the Ducks.
“He brought the inner city to Oregon,” Kayvon Thibodeaux, the No. 1 player from California in 2019, told me for the story, “and really shed a light on Oregon to the inner city.”
But Kiffin was on the other end of that. Thomas was a massive loss for USC’s first-year head coach, one that first clouded the waters of a tenure that lasted only three seasons.
I had Don Pellum for the story, the main character and Thomas’ lead recruiter from Oregon. I had Thibodeaux and Greg Biggins, who covered the theatrics of the commitment when it happened. Throw in a few recycled quotes from Chip Kelly and that’s a pretty solid story.
Reaching out to Mississippi was a Hail Mary. A bonus. A, Wouldn’t it be funny if he actually said yes?
He didn’t say yes. He just called.
Surely, Kiffin had better things to be doing. He went 5-5 in his first year back in the SEC, leading Mississippi to a win in the Outback Bowl. Shoring up his 2021 recruiting class would be pivotal in positioning the program to compete in the uber-competitive conference. Yet for some reason he was up for 15 minutes on how the allure of Oregon still baffled him all these years later.
“If there was a list of kids, the last one to worry about would have been him,” Kiffin recalled. “But that’s a neat place and he took an official visit there and they hammered him with the Nike and uniforms and all of that stuff.