Most Tennessee fans had an unfavorable view of former head coach Lane Kiffin following his sudden departure from Knoxville after one season leading the Vols, but the newly hired Ole Miss head coach offered nothing but praise for the Volunteers in an interview with 99.1 “The Sports Animal” — a Knoxville based radio show — on Monday afternoon.
When he was asked about Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt, Kiffin voiced his respect for the third year head coach. “He’s doing a great job,” said the former Vols head coach. “He’s one of the hardest-working guys in the country.”
Kiffin and Pruitt worked together for one season at Alabama in 2016, when Kiffin served as the program’s offensive coordinator and Pruitt served as the defensive coordinator. The following offseason, Kiffin left Alabama for the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic, while Pruitt would remain in Tuscaloosa until he was offered the Tennessee head coaching job after the 2017 College Football season.
Kiffin would go on to note that he believed the end of Tennessee’s season, when they won 6 straight games and ended the year with a victory in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, was one of the most impressive things he had seen from Pruitt. “It was good to see the end of last season end so well, to play so well,” said the newly hired Ole Miss head coach. “I told him when I saw him, we played somebody or I had seen his team play against someone we were playing the last two years and boy what a difference in just a year. He had changed the roster and is getting players better, so the future is very bright there.”
The hosts of 99.1 “The Sports Animal” then asked Kiffin if he had changed since being the head coach for Tennessee in 2009. “I think I have a lot,” said Kiffin. “I think everybody does, especially on whatever, the fifth head coaching job.”
Kiffin continued, “I’m sure Pete Carroll has (changed), he’s on his fourth or fifth. Nick Saban, he’s on his fifth I think. I’m not comparing myself to them, just saying in general over time, you should change and evolve. That’s part of growing and maturing and learning. I would say (I’ve changed) a lot.”
Kiffin is entering his first season as head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels, which marks his fifth head coaching job. Kiffin has also served as the head coach for the Oakland Raiders (NFL), Tennessee Volunteers, USC Trojans, and Florida Atlantic Owls. Jeremy Pruitt and the Vols will face off against Lane Kiffin’s Rebels in Knoxville during the 2021 season. Pruitt will be in his 4th season with the Vols, and Kiffin will be in his 2nd season with Ole Miss.