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Ole Miss' Lane Kiffin Fondly Remembers Former Red Raiders Coach Mike Leach Ahead of Texas Bowl

Lane Kiffin was at USC when he had his first interaction with then-Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach.

As Texas Tech prepares for the Taxact Texas Bowl, so to does their opponent Ole Miss. The Rebels and their head coach Lane Kiffin are riding a three-game losing streak into this bowl, so they'll be chomping at the bit to come out of Houston, Texas with a win over Tech. Although all parties are focused squarely on Wednesday's showdown, Kiffin still had time to reflect on the late, great head coach Mike Leach, who passed away earlier this December. 

While Leach coached at many institutions, spending his finals seasons with Mississippi State, he is perhaps best remembered as Texas Tech's eccentric head coach, notorious for his air raid genius. That's when Kiffin had his first interaction with Leach, one that would blossom into a long friendship.

"It was in season," Kiffin told media on Tuesday leading up to the bowl game. "We were at USC, playing really well. Tech was having a down year. He just said, 'Hey, your dad gave me your number,' then he started saying, 'What do you guys practice like on Wednesdays?' He just stayed on the phone for like 45 minutes. He just wanted to talk and learn."

They continued that connection for years, and remained friends and admirers of one another, even when Leach became head coach at Kiffin and the Rebels' in-state rival Mississippi State. Leach got the last laugh over his old pal in that one, as the Bulldogs escaped with a 24-22 win over Ole Miss in this year's 'Egg Bowl'. When Leach passed in early December, Kiffin was one of the many in attendance at the late motivator's memorial ceremony.

Of course, Leach's impact on the game cannot be ignored. His offensive ingenuity and innovation have spawned countless variations of his prolific pass-happy scheme. For many, though, his unabashed and eclectic personality will be what they remember most about the legendary ball coach.

"I just have a lot of great memories," Kiffin said. "I appreciate, too....that he was going to get up here and just be who he was. He wasn't going to change for a camera or a person. I just really appreciate that part about him."

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