It was a long road back, even by Lane Kiffin's own admission, but he's once again an SEC head coach and ready to take his shot at some of the top teams in college football.
Kiffin was introduced Monday as Ole Miss' head coach and said he was eager to put down roots and leave a legacy at the school.
"I know this league very well," said Kiffin, who at 44 is embarking on his fifth different head-coaching venture. "I have worked with many of the head coaches in this league and have a ton of respect for them and their programs, but I've been studying them for the past three seasons, studied them schematically, have spoken to a lot of coaches, have done clinics at their schools. I've been on a mission to know why these programs are successful and how to beat them.
"I've watched them play big-time SEC games, SEC championship games, playoff games and national championship games. It hurt me and it motivated me, and it drove me to improve. I've worked hard to get back, and I've got something to prove."
Kiffin, whose contract at Ole Miss will pay him an average of $4.2 million per year, told ESPN that it's a much different version of the Kiffin who stormed into the SEC 11 years ago at Tennessee picking fights with Hall of Fame coaches and taking brashness to a whole different level.
"I think I've matured a lot and understand it's not about me, but about getting the most out of the players, helping them grow and making it an experience we can all be proud of," Kiffin said. "We all want to win, and there are different ways to do that. I've been so fortunate to learn under two of the best in Nick Saban and Pete Carroll, both of whom have won championships but have much different styles. I've taken the parts of those styles that fit me and blended them together."