Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin are both about to embark on their first ever Egg Bowl.
Neither new head coach is from Mississippi. Neither had any ties to the state before taking their respective jobs this past winter, but they'll forever be intertwined as long as the two are within the Magnolia State.
Ahead of Saturday's meeting, the first between the two head coaches, here's everything Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach said about the Egg Bowl, the Rebels and Lane Kiffin in his Monday presser.
On his knowledge of the Egg Bowl and the rivalry's history:
Well, I suspect I don't know quite as much about it as you, to be perfectly honest. I do know that over the years, even as I was a kid, I know it was always an incredibly intense game. I know it's very meaningful to people and I know that it's in conversation all year round. Everyday. There's not a day that I don't hear somebody mention the Egg Bowl. So, I know it's a very meaningful game. I also know that there's been plenty of them that were exciting to watch, long before I was ever in the state of Mississippi. It's exciting to be a part of it and it's a great opportunity to have a chance to play in one.
On relying on staffers with Egg Bowl experience to help prepare:
I think it's really important. I mean because we definitely want to celebrate the past and then help utilize that for our foundation moving forward for the future. I think all of those guys, even Tony Hughes is in that mix, too. Everybody that's been here and helped build this place, we want to draw what we can from it. The toughest thing is you've got to do it in a really succinct fashion... We definitely want to recognize and make sure everybody understands that they're an important part of the history of this. We've got to make ours now.
On his relationship with Lane (and Monte) Kiffin:
I guess we both know Monte [Kiffin]. Lane knew Monte Kiffin first and then I met Monte. Monte introduced me [to his son] Lane, so, I guess we're both mutual friends with Monte. That kind of brought us together. Just over the years seeing him around coaching and spending time with him. I mean he's an enjoyable guy. The worst thing, especially in this day in age, and then coaching for life or anytime that you're doing something as repetitious as football, you try to avoid as many boring people as you can. Lane's not boring, so I've always been excited to spend time with him. If you're stuck at one of these coaches meeting things that everybody pretends are so important, Lane lightens it up a little bit. I for one am happy that he's [at the coaches meetings].
On what stands out about the Ole Miss team:
I just think they are kind of collectively explosive on offense. I would say how explosive they are on offense, that's probably the thing that jumps out the most. I think they're good in their other phases of the game, too.
On Leach's general appreciation of rivalry games:
Well, I think you start with the fact that virtually every game's important. You only get ten of them. I think that sometimes on the outside there's a temptation to elevate games. You only get to play one game a week, so your full focus and effort needs to be on that one game. So, I think there is that. You want to kind of condition around that, but by the same token, this is a game that's memorable. It's very important to our fans. Even though they can't be in the stands as much as usual. People will be watching, and people will definitely take an interest in this game. They'll talk about it for a year. The biggest thing that we need to worry about is being the best team we can be and play the best we can.
On the added pressure of the Egg Bowl in Mississippi:
I'm into all these games to do the very best I can. I mean, the best I can is all I've got. No there really isn't [added pressure]. You do your best and let the rest take care of itself pretty much. Then try to learn from what you did along the way and elevate after that. No, there isn't. It's like the old breakfast thing we talked about. I mean they pretty much got me all sum total. No, there's really not. I mean, there might be if I wasn't giving full effort, concentration or something like that. If somehow I was sandbagging and holding out. You got pretty much what I've got, so that's it.
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