If Lane Kiffin guides the Alabama offense to the College Football Playoff and wins the national title in his first year on the job, there's no guarantee someone will offer him a head coaching position. There's no guarantee he'd want to take one.
The only guarantee, I suppose, is that hell would be cold and frozen.
But seriously, there's a realistic scenario where Kiffin, not 16 months after being dumped at the airport at 3:00 a.m. by USC athletic director Pat Haden, stands proud atop a podium, beneath a mist of Crimson confetti, and hoists the Whatever They Name the New Trophy.
If that were the case, athletic directors with job openings would be forced to consider Kiffin as a head coaching candidate, despite what would be further proof that he's better suited as a coordinator:
|Lane Kiffin as FBS Offensive Coordinator vs. FBS Head Coach|
|Seasons||Record||Conf. Titles||BCS Bowls|
|Head Coach||5||35-21 (.625)||0||0|
Note: The 12-1 record for Kiffin's 2005 season at USC has technically been vacated by the NCAA, but for this argument, we'll keep it.
The lower-tier jobs with potential openings would surely offer Kiffin a job. If Norm Chow and Ron Turner don't turn things around at Hawaii and Florida International, respectively, and if Kiffin is desperate enough to get back to running a program, he could have those positions in a heartbeat.
Something tells me he won't be, however. That unless a major college program is willing to let him coach, he would be content spending (at least) another year out of the spotlight—which he doesn't appear to like—focused on recruiting and football and...well, not much else.
Am I certain of that? No. But for all intents and purposes, let's assume only the power conference teams are in play; and as a starting point, let's use this list of 10 hot-seat jobs I put together Tuesday:
- West Virginia
- Georgia Tech
Because Kiffin brings so much baggage and bears so much risk, I don't think he'd be offered a job from any school that cares too much about football. That is, I think we can rule out Florida, Michigan, Nebraska and West Virginia: The candidates that can't afford a curt, media-unfriendly coach at the head of their program.
Similarly, just because of Kiffin's head coaching reputation—great recruiter, not-so-great schemer—I think we can rule out Virginia and Illinois, which either have a coach like that right now (Mike London) or fired one not long ago (Ron Zook).
That leaves us with four—Maryland, Rutgers, Georgia Tech and Kansas—which I think could all give real consideration to hiring Kiffin. If Randy Edsall, Kyle Flood, Paul Johnson or Charlie Weis get the axe after this season, and Alabama wins a championship (or even comes close), Kiffin's name would at least have to be floated in the discussion about replacements.
Out of those final four options, Maryland stands out as intriguing.
This is weird because, out of the 10 hot-seat coaches I worked with, Edsall probably has the most job security. He has been cursed by injuries since arriving three years ago and helped will his team to a winning record and bowl game last season.
But Terps fans still expect more. Especially now that former offensive coordinator James Franklin is back in the conference and the area, they want a guy who they trust will not get slaughtered in recruiting.
"Our recruiting philosophy," said Franklin, the new head coach at Penn State, according to Josh Moyer of ESPN.com, "(is) we are going to dominate the state. We are going to dominate the region."
Edsall has held his own in recruiting, bringing in local 5-star guys like Stefon Diggs in 2012 and Damian Prince this past cycle.
But Kiffin could take the next step.
If enough things go right, or, in Edsall's case, wrong, who knows? We might actually see this kind of thing happen.
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