FAYETTEVILLE, – It’s been intriguing observing Arkansas coach Sam Pittman and newly appointed offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino travel from house to house and meal to meal, aiming to solidify relationships over shared bread. The wholesome atmosphere feels secure, akin to Santa Claus, albeit with fried catfish instead of cookies.
This contrasts sharply with Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin’s recent actions. His whirlwind tour across the country, featuring images of airports, floor mats, and other teams’ names in photos on various objects, must be a nightmare for coaches who ventured outside their university to recruit. Each photo elicits curses from coaches realizing what’s missing. In the Razorbacks’ case, Kiffin walked into Fayetteville and left with a shiny new linebacker, Chris “Pooh” Paul.
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) December 9, 2023
Fortunately, Kiffin seems happily married with children and a beloved dog. Imagine if he were single; instead of pictures of opposing school planes and golf carts, there might be a photo of his shoes next to some unsuspecting coach’s bed. Soon, both his wife and his leading receiver could be in the transfer portal seeking quality time in “The ‘Sip.”
Speaking of “The ‘Sip,” Kiffin’s “Come to the Sip” branding campaign has been a massive success. Making Mississippi feel cool and dripping with swagger is no easy feat, but Kiffin achieved it through subtle trolling and social media branding.
Despite the rumors about Arkansas nearly hiring Kiffin, it’s widely accepted that Pittman was the right choice. He connected well with the people of Arkansas, pulling the Razorbacks out of despair.
The question arises: Could Kiffin have replicated his success at Mississippi in Arkansas? Would he have the same freedom he enjoys in Oxford? While his methods resonate with the younger crowd and recruits, would the older demographic, which funds the program, accept Kiffin’s disruptive approach?
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) December 7, 2023
It’s doubtful that Kiffin, known for his Twitter antics, could resist outing a thin-skinned booster, jeopardizing his tenure before achieving success. Imagine the challenge of creating a branded phrase for Arkansas, an area where the program has struggled. Pittman, who avoids social media, embraces a down-home approach, gaining trust one cheddar biscuit at a time.
Kiffin, on the other hand, opts for a direct approach, reaching recruits where they can’t quit – their phones. One aims to win mom’s heart positively, while the other seeks to simply win her son. Their methods are incompatible.
Next fall, both fan bases will see which recruiting approach proves more effective in the typically tight game between the Rebels and Razorbacks. And don’t forget, “Pooh” Paul will be there again too.