Ole Miss football battled back from a first-half deficit to beat Tulane on Saturday and Lane Kiffin was proud of his team, as well as the Rebels’ ball boy. The 47-year-old head coach made sure to show him plenty of love while also touting the culture of his program.
Head equipment manager Ken Crain has been with the Ole Miss athletic department since 1997. He is beloved by the university and its fanbase for his creativity and diligence when it comes to getting the team ready to play.
Perhaps more importantly, though, Crain is a great guy and instills a strong work ethic in those who serve on his staff. That includes the ball boys, who play a bigger role in game day operations than they get credit.
On Saturday, as the Rebels came storming back against the Green Wave, wide receiver Jordan Watkins caught a pass near the opposing sideline and started to talk his talk. One of Crain’s disciples, the ball boy, shut it down right away. He, pretty much single-handedly, kept Watkins from getting an unsportsmanlike penalty that would have negated his big gain.
CBS Sports analyst Aaron Taylor took notice.
Kiffin responded to Taylor by touting the equipment staff and how his program puts culture first.
Not only did the ball boy show great situational awareness, he’s a dog. The young Rebel took a hit early in the first quarter and bounced right back up as if it was no big deal. And he didn’t fumble!
Tough as nails too. pic.twitter.com/FEP59e9Mgh— Stuart “Stew” Henderson (@stewruthless) September 10, 2023
Crain replied with one of his core principles: “Treat the ground like a hot stove!”
Equipment staffs do not get enough love. Shoutout to Kiffin for giving them the respect they deserve!
They are more than just guys who clean jerseys. Their role goes well beyond “equipment.”
Crain’s focus on diligence and character was on full display in New Orleans!