Some 12 years later, Lane Kiffin still found ways to needle Urban Meyer, talk about Rocky Top and explain his patient approach with his quarterbacks during his return to Southeastern Conference football media days.
After COVID-19 cancelled the event a year ago, Kiffin returned 12 years after he first appeared in Birmingham, Alabama, as then-head coach of the Tennessee Vols.
Reminded he brought his All-SEC ballot with him back in 2009 to prove that he had voted for Florida standout Tim Tebow as first-team all-conference, Kiffin lofted another verbal jab at Meyer
“As usual, I was accused of that and I brought my ballot to show everyone,” Kiffin recalled. “To show Urban (then the head coach of the defending national champion Florida Gators). We're back to Urban Meyer and Tebow and singing Rocky Top in the Swamp all night long. That part.”
Kiffin, who a dozen years ago after he was hired atop the Vols' program to replace the fired Phillip Fulmer had brashly proclaimed his intent to dethrone the Gators and sing 'Rocky Top' on Florida's field, offered candid insight into his deliberately patient approach with quarterbacks.
Even when that quarterback, such as Matt Corral a year ago against Arkansas, has perhaps thrown six interceptions.
“I think it says a lot about him that he was able to recover from that. I get asked all the time about why didn't we pull him,” Kiffin said of Corral, who Ole Miss' second-year coach said would be his All-SEC quarterback vote heading into the 2021 season. “And we've just always, I've just always believed that you're really slow to do that. Because you get into pulling quarterbacks, you're back and forth, then their confidence is lost. And it's not like another position.
“When you're the leader of it and you've got to take the ball every single snap, if your confidence is rattled and floating different guys in there … so I'm glad we stayed with him. He learned a lot from it.”
Corral finished with 29 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last year in a breakout-season that coincided with Kiffin's first year as the Rebels' head coach.
Kiffin said Corral's performance – after Corral had torched Alabama the week prior with 365 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions – proved a valuable learning-tool for both his quarterback and the rest of the team.
“Sometimes you've got to have obstacles,” Kiffin said. “I've referenced obstacles. In a way, that's as good as it gets right there: throw the ball to the other team six times. That's a pretty big obstacle.
“So he learned a lot from that, and that's coming off an Alabama game seven days before where he played extremely well. So it's a lesson for all of our players. You've got to go back to work and be humble.”