Lane Kiffin reveals protective stance on Alabama’s Nick Saban: ‘It really pisses me off’

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin discussed his relationship with Alabama legend Nick Saban on Tuesday, saying he has an “unusual way of respect” for what Saban did for his career. 

Kiffin, who spent three years working under Saban as an assistant coach, expressed his appreciation for what Saban has done for his coaching career in a “College Sports on SiriusXM” radio appearance. 

Head coach Lane Kiffin of the Mississippi Rebels looks on before the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on November 24, 2022 in Oxford, Mississippi.  (Justin Ford/Getty Images)

“I think it’s maybe an unusual way of respect for what he did for me,” Kiffin said. “First off, I respect the guy. He’s the greatest college coach to ever coach college football because he is doing it in an era different than Bear Bryant and some of those names because of scholarship limitations compared to back then.”

“Imagine if Nick Saban had unlimited scholarships, or he could take 150 players? Good luck, everybody else. It would be Alabama and Georgia, I guess.”

Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin talk

Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide converses with head coach Lane Kiffin of the Mississippi Rebels prior to facing each other at Bryant-Denny Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Kiffin likened Saban to a member of his family, saying he gets protective when anyone else pokes fun at the seven-time national champion. 

“He’s like a family member where I can joke about him or something,” Kiffin explained about his relationship. “But, if someone else does, it really pisses me off.”

Saban hired Kiffin in 2014 to be Alabama’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after Kiffin was unceremoniously fired as the head coach at USC.

During his time with the Crimson Tide, Kiffin and Saban butted heads occasionally, with Saban replacing Kiffin as the play caller for the 2017 national championship game after Kiffin took the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic University

Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin meet after a game

Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban meets with Mississippi Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin following a college football game on November 12, 2022 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi.   (Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Looking back, it appears that Kiffin thinks fondly of his time under Saban as the two head coaches prepare for another season of battling for the SEC West title.

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