Former Tennessee and USC head coach Lane Kiffin, who also had a stint in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders, is set to join the Alabama coaching staff as the offensive coordinator, the program has announced:
Alabama football has hired Lane Kiffin to be its next offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. #RollTide— Alabama Football (@AlabamaFTBL) January 10, 2014
ESPN's Joe Schad reports the length of the deal:
Lane Kiffin's Alabama deal is for 3 years.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) January 10, 2014
"We are excited to have Lane join our staff," Saban said in a statement on Alabama’s website. "He is an outstanding and creative offensive coach who has great experience both at the college and NFL level. He has a very good understanding of the game and I have always been impressed with what I saw in the games he called.
“He coaches with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm, and also does an excellent job as a teacher. Lane will be an outstanding addition to our coaching staff and we look forward to him and his family joining us at the University of Alabama."
The position opened up after Doug Nussmeier reached an agreement to fill the same position at Michigan. Alabama moved quickly to find a replacement and ultimately decided that Kiffin, a polarizing figure to say the least, was the best man for the job.
What do you think of the Kiffin hiring?
Kiffin compiled a 35-21 record over four-plus seasons as a college head coach, one with Tennessee and the rest with USC, before getting let go by the Trojans after five games of the 2013 campaign.
Those who love Kiffin will point to his confidence and recruiting prowess. Those who don't like him will note his mediocre results and temper during press conferences.
Nick Saban obviously likes what the 38-year-old Nebraska native brings to the table. ESPN noted the two met before the Sugar Bowl to talk shop, and the Crimson Tide head coach spoke highly of Kiffin as an offensive mind:
Lane is a really good offensive coach, and I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for him. Just to come in and brainstorm a little bit to get some professional ideas with our guys is a really positive thing.
Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims seems excited about the idea of working with Kiffin:
Want to welcome coach lane to the tide will do very well for us this coming up here— Blake Sims (@_bsims6) January 10, 2014
Not everybody will agree with Saban's assessment. Arash Markazi of ESPN states the general consensus coming out of Kiffin's time with USC is that his offensive coaching ability doesn't match the hype:
Most USC fans would agree Lane Kiffin is a great recruiter. You won't get the same consensus on him being a great offensive coordinator.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) January 9, 2014
Yet it's hard to ignore the opinion of a four-time national champion coach. While things didn't go according to plan for Kiffin at USC, that doesn't mean he can't succeed as Alabama's offensive coordinator. Saban clearly thinks he will.
One thing Kiffin has always done well is recruit. He has a way of connecting with players, which should bode well for Alabama when it comes to attracting top offensive prospects. Its ability to bring in elite defensive recruits is already unmatched.
That's one of the reasons Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com thinks Kiffin can succeed at Alabama. He also points out that Saban's ability to keep assistants in the background will help:
As for Kiffin’s penchant for saying things he probably shouldn't say, that wouldn't be a problem at Alabama because Kiffin wouldn't be allowed to talk. Except on rare Saban-approved occasions, he would wear the same one-voice muzzle as every other assistant in Tuscaloosa.
That ability to ignore the media and focus on coaching—and recruiting, another of his strengths—sounds as if it would be attractive to Kiffin.
Ultimately, this is a hiring that will attract a lot of attention at the outset. Kiffin will be in the spotlight every week, but this time around he won't have to deal with the media after every game.
Kiffin has an opportunity to rebuild his reputation. It's a chance to prove his doubters wrong.
Only time will tell if he actually does.