Former USC head coach Lane Kiffin didn't see his stint in Los Angeles end as he had hoped, but he is making it clear that he's happy to be the new offensive coordinator at Alabama.
Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated recently caught up with Kiffin, who gave a rave review of his time as an offensive consultant for the Crimson Tide—a visit that eventually led to his hiring as offensive coordinator:
Kiffin said the Crimson Tide had an NFL vibe. "It's an absolute machine from when you step into that building until you walk out at the end of the night," he said. "Everything from recruiting to offense to defense. Everyone in there is just working."
Though he is just 38 years old, Kiffin has a wealth of experience in the NFL and with top collegiate programs.
Kiffin was an offensive assistant for the Jacksonville Jaguars and even had a brief stint as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. At the collegiate level, Kiffin was the head coach at Tennessee for a short time before leaving to take the head coaching job at USC.
He also spent several years as the offensive coordinator for the Trojans, which were the most successful times of his career. In the early 2000s, USC fielded some of the best offenses and overall teams in college football history.
This season, USC stumbled through a rough start to the season, prompting school leadership to part ways with Kiffin. The Trojans finished strong at 10-4 behind interim coach Ed Orgeron, eventually hiring Steve Sarkisian away from Washington as Kiffin's full-time successor.
Still regarded as one of the brightest offensive minds in college football, Kiffin was a hot product on the coaching carousel.
Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier split from 'Bama to head to Michigan, leaving an opening for the Tide. After his stay as a consultant in December, Kiffin was hired as the new 'Bama offensive coordinator in January.
He also told Sports Illustrated about two things that shocked him during his visit to Tuscaloosa—the changing culture in the SEC and the team's incredible depth:
"In watching a lot of film of their season, (the SEC is) starting to change a little bit toward the Pac-12, spread out with a running quarterback," Kiffin said. "You're seeing that with Texas A&M. The SEC is changing, which is surprising."
The organization at Alabama wasn't the only thing that looked like the NFL. The talent did, too:
"It was the first week of bowl practice and they were practicing like it was a game," Kiffin said. "They were physical and aggressive and tough practices. They've got a lot of top talent. At USC we had it, but they've got 85 scholarship players. There's a lot more of it."
There's no doubt that Kiffin to Alabama is the most interesting assistant coach hiring of the offseason, and it might be one of the juiciest of the past decade.
With Kiffin joining the top program in college football, expectations will be very high.
However, with the former USC boss showing this kind of passion for his new position, this could end up as a very lucrative pairing for both parties.
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