With Doug Nussmeier out at Alabama, Should Nick Saban Consider Lane Kiffin?

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJanuary 9, 2014

USA Today

The coaching silly season has now officially become silly.

According to CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman, Doug Nussmeier has been hired away from Alabama to become Michigan's offensive coordinator. He spent the previous two seasons running the Crimson Tide offense.

Surprise move? You bet. Nussmeier's departure from Tuscaloosa came out of nowhere.

Michigan backed up a Brinks truck to Nussmeier, according to Feldman, which certainly cancels out the relative instability into which he's walking from the Alabama to the Michigan staff.

Former USC head coach Lane Kiffin
Former USC head coach Lane KiffinHarry How/Getty Images

So where will Alabama go?

Former USC and Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin spent some time during bowl practices in Tuscaloosa, and he runs a pro-style system similar to the one that Saban has preferred for quite some time. 

He will interview for the position as early as Thursday, according to Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com.

The Tuscaloosa News' Cecil Hurt commented on the Kiffin speculation on Twitter on Wednesday night.

I'd be surprised if Lane Kiffin came to UA. But not shocked.

— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) January 9, 2014

Should Saban really consider going in that direction?


Before everyone goes off on an anti-Kiffin rant that's filled with anger stemming from his one year at Tennessee and follows it up with a criticism of his most recent offense—which averaged 380.4 yards per game in five games this season before Kiffin was firedjust stop.

He's a good offensive coach and a good recruiter, which would be his two primary job responsibilities as an offensive coordinator no matter where he is. It's the other responsibilities associated with being a head coach where he struggles.

Former USC head coach Lane Kiffin
Former USC head coach Lane KiffinKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The question here becomes whether Kiffin can operate in a controlled environment like the one Saban runs. He may be able to, and the biggest question facing Saban is whether he wants to take that risk.

Alabama is going to be Alabama, regardless of who's coordinating the offense.

Nussmeier came to Alabama with a wide-open system fresh off of a 56-point, 620-yard performance in a loss to Baylor in the 2011 Alamo Bowl. He adjusted to Alabama, not the other way around.

Kiffin would do the same.

When you have a new quarterback and T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake in the backfield, guess where the ball is going to go? It's going to go to the running backs, and the quarterback will throw off of play action. Even if a hurry-up, no-huddle coach is brought in, there's no way that won't happen. 

Alabama RB Derrick Henry
Alabama RB Derrick HenryDerick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Plus, he can develop a quarterback along the way.

This season at USC was a bit of a disaster, but he helped Matt Barkley become a second-team All-Pac-12 performer in 2011, and former Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton threw for 2,800 yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 picks in his one season with Kiffin.

It's still a long shot for Kiffin to land with Alabama.

Promoting from within and giving Billy Napier more responsibilities is one possibility, or bringing back a guy Saban is familiar with, like current Chicago Bears wide receivers coach and former 'Bama assistant Mike Groh, could be the more likely option. 

But Kiffin to Alabama isn't something that should be written off just because "he's Lane Kiffin." When you get past the noise and his reputation, he's certainly qualified.