The 2020 Egg Bowl should have some fun side stories with two colorful coaches like Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin taking over their respective programs.
When a new head football coach is hired, there are always changes that come with it. Mike Leach is certainly no exception. From the day he was hired as the new football coach at Mississippi State, he showed that his unconventional style was coming with him from Pullman.
When sizing Mike Leach up, his droopy eyes and somewhat extended jowls are anything but the indication of a sharp-minded football coach. Yet, beneath the exterior that looks like it would be more comfortable on a front porch rocker than on an SEC sideline, lies the college football version of A Beautiful Mind.
When you add the arrogant personality of Lane Kiffin to the other side of the field in the Bulldogs’ biggest rivalry game of the year, the Egg Bowl suddenly becomes even more compelling – and not just for Mississippi State and Ole Miss fans, but for the entire nation.
Advantage, Mike Leach?
While Lane Kiffin has some history within the SEC, both with a brief stint as Tennessee’s head coach and a few years serving as Grand Moff to Emperor Nick Saban at Alabama, Mike Leach is a newcomer to the conference and that may actually work to his advantage.
Leach won’t buy into any predetermined conceptions of what SEC football is all about, and his offensive innovations will likely befuddle Kiffin’s defensive staff, including former Mississippi State defensive line coach, Deke Adams. It’s safe to say that Ole Miss co-defensive coordinators D.J. Durkin and Chris Partridge haven’t faced an offense the likes of which Leach will throw at them.
The Washington State offense under leach threw the ball 710 times in 2019 and completed over 70 percent of those passes, leading the nation in pass plays of ten yards or more with 227 long completions.
Kiffin is known as an offensive guru in his own right, but it’s doubtful that he’ll employ anything at Ole Miss that wasn’t seen many times when he was directing the offense for the Crimson Tide.
The Bulldogs also have a little more to build on defensively, which will make the job even harder for Kiffin and his team.
“Having coached for a long time in the SEC, I can tell you the defensive coaches are going to hate that Mike is in that league,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said to ESPN.
Mike Leach has what some may call a “checkered” past, while others simply regard him as a bit of a rebel who has a very unorthodox way of getting the job done (especially when it comes to press conferences).
You can bet that Leach will find ways to antagonize his cross-state rival, and knowing Lane Kiffin and his too-cool-for-school attitude, the bait will be dangled in both directions. We’ll give the overall advantage to Leach.
Mike Leach The Mad Scientist vs Lane Kiffin’s Latest Dream Job
Because of his affinity for conjuring up new offensive potions and stitching together seemingly unwanted pieces to make a formidable whole, Leach was donned with the nickname “The Mad Scientist”. Kiffin, on the other hand, has a habit of calling each new stop in his coaching career his “dream job”.
Both coaches are driven by chips on their shoulders as well. Leach is constantly out to prove that Texas Tech made a huge mistake when they showed him the door, while Kiffin wants to show the world that his failure at USC was just a blip on the radar.
In a nutshell, Kiffin seems to be driven by ego and face time on camera (and his signature hate-blocker shades). Leach absolutely gets more out of keeping the football talk on the field and using his dry wit and no-nonsense nature to spin incredible yarns and find tangents that need a road map during press conferences.
When you combine those factors into one of the best football rivalries in the country, it’s going to get crazy.
“I don’t know,” former Ole Miss quarterback Archie Manning told ESPN reporters when asked if the state of Mississippi was ready for this bizarre rivalry. “But I do know this: It’s sure not going to be boring.”
And boring is the last thing it will be.