Lane Kiffin needs Florida Atlantic more than it needs him

FILE - In this Dec. 2, 2016, file photo, Alabama head coach Nick Saban, left, talks with Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, right, during practice for the Southeastern Conference Championship NCAA college football game, in Atlanta. A person with direct knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has agreed in principle to become the next coach at Florida Atlantic. The person, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because neither side had revealed anything publicly, said the school was preparing an announcement likely to come later Monday, Dec. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

One of these men is a great head coach. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

Some folks are surprised that Lane Kiffin, famous princeling, is stooping so low as to grace Florida Atlantic of Conference USA with his presence. (His five previous stops: USC, the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee, USC again and Alabama.) But here we note what Houston booster/regent Tilman Fertitta said of Kiffin, whom the Cougars spurned as head coach: “(He) was not a safe hire.”

Kiffin’s career record as head coach is 40-36. He has talked a great game and delivered next to nothing. Maybe he’d have done well had he stayed at Tennessee for more than 13 games, but he skipped K-town for the bright lights of L.A., where not four years later he was fired on the tarmac of LAX and had to find a ride home.

As an offensive coordinator, Kiffin has done nicely at Alabama. But that’s as offensive coordinator, not as head coach. (Bama has one of those, thanks very much.) Forget about being the next Nick Saban. Nothing Kiffin has done as a head coach makes you think he’s the next Gary Barnett.

As a head coach, the only thing Kiffin has done without fail is tick people off. (Ergo, twice fired.) For all who believe L’il Kiffy has Grown Up while working in the court of the crimson king, my response would be: How can we know? Saban muzzles his assistants. His offensive coordinator could well be the same brat he was at Knoxville, but in Tuscaloosa he had no microphone.

How could Kirby Smart walk into a Power Five job when Kiffin couldn’t? Because Smart — apologies in advance — hadn’t proved himself to be a smart aleck. Because Smart appeared nothing if not solid. Kiffin has a track record of flightiness. He talks the talk, but let’s recall how his USC team that began the 2012 season ranked No. 1 finished: It lost to 6-7 Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.

If you’re a Power Five athletic director, you want no part of Kiffin just yet. (Houston isn’t quite Power Five, but it balked, too.) You have to see if he has indeed matured before you’d assume that risk. You have to see if he can coach a team, as opposed to an offense.

That’s what Kiffin has to gain at Florida Atlantic — credibility. He looked good working under Saban, but who looks bad when the team never loses? Jimbo Fisher was Saban’s offensive coordinator and has won a national championship at Florida State. Jim McElwain was Saban’s O.C. and has won consecutive SEC East titles at Florida. At FAU of C-USA, Kiffin needs to prove he can do something on his own. Because he hasn’t yet.

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14 comments
TideDawg
TideDawg

Kiffin has done well at Alabama(even with his character rating)because of one man...Saban. When an assistant coach is hired by Saban, he comes knowing who is in charge and who is always in charge....no questions. Those who don't know that, like players, don't stay very long. Kiffin was dressed down by Saban, during a game, and in front of the players.....and he has survived. Kiffin has been there 3 years so, with that in mind, he has earned a degree of respectability(character aside) as a coach. FAU football will prosper under Kiffin and Kiffin will move up to a higher level....eventuallly. I expect Sarkisian(sp) to be the next OC at Alabama. He could step in right now and the Tide wouldn't miss a beat, but it's best if Kiffin sees it through for the players sake. If Sarkisian is successful in 2017, he'll be gone on to a HC job in 2018. So goes the coaching carousel that accompanies successful programs. Bear Bryant said "I'm only as good as my assistant coaches". That's holds true...even with Saban.

MoreySims
MoreySims

lane's at fau just for head coach rehab---if he can win 8+ games, he'll be looking at a big money, power 5 job in the next 2 years. The man loves the money---he has lots of expensive girlfriends.

Dawg^2
Dawg^2

Mark, you have always been a terrible writer and this piece is just one more in your moronic style.   I have no reason to defend Kiffin, I'm a UGA grad and have always hated him.  That said, he's in his early 40s and has incredible experience.  I would never want him at UGA, but I guarantee he would have made a New Year's 6 bowl this year even with the Dawgs playing horribly (he would have beaten Tech, Vandy and Tenn to go 10-2).

There is no question he will excel at Florida Atlantic, they definitely needed him more than he needed them.  A young guy with his experience and charisma in South Florida, he will bring in the players.  If you believe Kirby, Muschamp, and whoevers at Missouri are better at coaching than Kiffin you are dead wrong, I'm just glad we don't have to recruit or play against him.  BTW, Saban is the biggest piece of crap human being in football.  College football coaches are bigger liars than used car salesman, total users and total jerks.  Kiffin is just not as good at hiding those traits.   

Honky4Herman
Honky4Herman

@Dawg^2 I think you are actually a closet Bama fan.  For me, what he did to Tennessee was just more evidence of how much of a jerk he is; his termination at USC evidence of how terrible a coach he is.  If you talk the talk, you had better be able to walk the walk.  Kiffin is just hot air when it comes to HC jobs.  I'm no Saban fan.  But if you win and send tons of players to the NFL, you are afforded the option to be as much of a jerk as you want.  If you are a loser like Kiffin.  Being a jerk, just makes you look like a jerk, which is all he will ever be.

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

If you are a Saban assistant these days, it essentially guarantees you a head coaching gig.  If Little Boy Lane can get one after he ruffled the feathers of essentially every one from Al Davis to Pat Haden, then you know anyone who walks the sideline with Saban is going to get a call to be the main man on campus.  Sad.  

WhistleDick99
WhistleDick99

Kiffin is a punk. He will never grow up which is why Layla finally sent him packing. When he was at Tennessee, he had some young honeys on the side.....my friend worked for the Lexus dealership that supplied Kiffin the car he crashed but failed to report to police. The dealership towed the car for repairs (which exceeded $30K) and found some very questionable items inside. No wonder Kiffin did not call police or report the wreck. Bobby Petrino II. 

DerekGator
DerekGator

Most of us will always think of Kiffin as a punk but the guy is only 41 and has been an HC in the NFL, SEC and Pac 12 and he worked under Saban the last few years.  It will take Kirby 20 years to have the knowledge and experience that Kiffin brings to the table. 

Honky4Herman
Honky4Herman

@DerekGator Wisdom and character are inherent. They are a foundation upon which experience is built.  Someone whose only experience is being a jerk cannot learn character and wisdom.  5 years from now, Kirby Who has plenty of wisdom and character, will be coaching one of the premier team in the NCAA, while Kiffin, the experienced professional jerk, will be offensive coordinator at Kansas State after FA has enough of him.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Kiffin proved at Alabama that he knows offense. Not only that but he had Saban's shadow on him the whole time. I'm sure he's learned a great deal at Alabama and that may help make him a great coach someday. He changed his image and it looks a lot better.........but, he will never get rid the fact that he turned his back on Tennessee and bolted for the West Coast. Maybe he will be forgiven. However, Forgiveness doesn't change the past but it can mold your future. 

Mulk
Mulk

@TideDawg


Who the hell wouldn't leave Tennessee for USC? Neyland?

USMC2841
USMC2841

 This is rent-a-Kiffin.  If he's successful he'll move on and I don't hold that against him.  Many coaches take better jobs.  Success may be easier found in Conference USA than in one of the larger conferences.  The truth will be in the scheduling.  Will he look to play some of the in state powerhouses, ACC or SEC opponents?

lowlow
lowlow

I like Coaches like him who are smart and yet experienced mistakes early in their career and likely learned some important lessons from the mistakes.  I bet he does well and if he does then he will be a hot commodity.  Long time assistants who have no head coaching experience scare me.  I'd rather have one who has been fired previously but is still considered to be valuable.


We will see how he does.  Clearly he got the message that an interim job would be required to get a Power5 job.  He can always find an assistant position if fired.  

Mulk
Mulk

I know Saban has a "process" but it still surprises me that he would let him coach through the play offs. But, Saban is usually right.