Lane Kiffin explains why Ole Miss football hired former Mississippi State coach Zach Arnett

OXFORD ― Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffin has always been complimentary of Zach Arnett’s mind for defense, even when Arnett resided on the other side of the Egg Bowl rivalry at Mississippi State.

Now, he’ll get to put that knowledge to use.

Kiffin confirmed Wednesday that he’d hired Arnett as an analyst for the Rebels just a few months after Arnett was fired as Mississippi State’s coach.

“I’ve had a lot of respect for Zach and thought they did a great job over there in Starkville during his time on defense and caused people problems,” Kiffin said. “So, had been in discussions. Actually today I think is his first day.”

Kiffin said he learned from former Alabama coach Nick Saban that staff positions can be a two-way street. The staffer can learn from the coach, while the coach can harvest the staffer’s ideas.

The addition of Arnett, Kiffin believes, is an example of that.

He’ll contribute to what should be a high-level defensive discussion within the Manning Center.

In Year 1 as defensive coordinator, Pete Golding turned Ole Miss into a top-six scoring defense in the SEC last season for the first time in Kiffin’s tenure.

The Rebels also added former Cincinnati defensive coordinator Bryan Brown this offseason as their co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach. He joined an already talented staff, featuring Wes Neighbors III and Randall Joyner.

“It’s people that we think are really knowledgeable in the conference and as coaches in general to add to our staff,” Kiffin said of Arnett. “This was a really good fit that way. He came down, met with myself, met with Coach Golding. Excited to put him in the defensive room, especially with conference knowledge, and so it should be really good.”

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Asked about Arnett’s contributions to Ole Miss’ recruiting efforts, given his extensive knowledge of the state, Kiffin said that wasn’t the motive for the addition.

“The motive was this is somebody that I’ve always thought does a really unique defensive scheme and causes people a lot of problems for years over there,” Kiffin said. “So that was a big part of it. Then after that, yeah, there’s knowledge of recruiting in the state. I don’t know how much of that is a big benefit, but it’s just good to have him over here.”

David Eckert covers Ole Miss for the Clarion Ledger. Email him at or reach him on Twitter @davideckert98.

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