But Kiffin, entering his third season at Ole Miss having overseen a leap from a 5-5 record in Year 1 to a 10-3 record in Year 2, zeroed in on the SEC when asked about challenges those four teams (USC, UCLA, Texas, Oklahoma) could face.
“You know, they’ve been playing in great conferences and against great opponents,” Kiffin said. “I mean, I just say how it is. I don’t know that there’s a huge jump into the Big Ten. I think going to the SEC is a whole ‘nother animal. I think the draft picks, national championships prove that coming out of the SEC.
“I just said, it’s a different world. Said it for a long time: The SEC just means more. And it does. It’s different, it’s ahead of the game. Now, over the last five, 10 years, the players started coming that didn’t used to come from the Northeast and West Coast very often at all. That transition I feel like started with Alabama especially, and now they’re coming to the SEC.”
Kiffin added: “That’s a big challenge. I know everything obviously is about money nowadays or else teams wouldn’t be going with playing all over the place, breaking up these awesome traditions. The coaches got to deal with it and get ready for a different world.”
Kiffin also addressed being on the inside of the SEC while there’s volatility or uncertainty swirling on the outside, as conference realignment shakes out, and again expressed frustration with potentially losing traditions in the college football landscape.
“I haven’t really thought about it that way,” Kiffin said. “I’ve said, just like I mentioned, the SEC is the top of everything. So people are always trying to chase the SEC and figure it out. I don’t know the history behind the moves, but I’m sure it had something to do with the SEC starting the unique moves for that to happen, for traditional teams like USC and UCLA to move like that, so ... Not that my opinion matters on it, but I don’t like that. I think there’s so much tradition. When you go to places, you’ve been to USC, all these different places, you see how passionate fans are about certain things, what matters, rivalries. For those to be dismantled for money is kind of a shame.”