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The thing that sets Kiffin apart from almost all other Pac-12 coaches is his experience in both the NFL and NCAA.
Kiffin's 36 years of life have been filled with tons of experience, beginning with his assistant gig at USC under Pete Carroll, then going to Oakland in his only NFL stint, traveling to Tennessee to be loved and quickly hated, and finally ending up back at USC for his dream job.
Everyone knows how badly Kiffin's time in Oakland went (5-15 over less than two years), but it didn't help that Al Davis hated him. His one year at Tennessee ended up being a lot of talk and very little walk, starting with Kiffin claiming his Vols would beat Urban Meyer's and Tim Tebow's Florida Gators (they didn't), and ending with a loss in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to Virginia Tech, a 7-6 record and a huge fallout when he accepted the USC position.
However, the experience and knowledge Kiffin has gained from his coaching history is extremely valuable. Now he has run a pro-style offense in the pros and seen football from both sides of the draft. His time at Tennessee taught him firsthand the style of football that has won five straight national championships. This kind of experience can only be matched by Dennis Erickson, and when compared with our two remaining coaches, Kiffin is ahead by a mile.
Chip Kelly has only been a head coach for three years, and David Shaw is a rookie.
Shaw is comparable to Jim Caldwell of the Indianapolis Colts—he inherited a great team with a quarterback that could be the head coach if he wanted to. Caldwell let Peyton Manning run the Colt's offense, and Shaw is doing the same with Andrew Luck by letting him call plays. For that reason alone, Shaw shouldn't even be in the discussion for premier head coach.
Kelly, on the other hand, has made the most of his three years at the helm. His offense is one of the most prolific in the country, and he has been to two straight BCS games. It's tough to argue against that.
Coaches eliminated on experience premise: Stanford's David Shaw.