Lane Kiffin has landed comfortably, again.
After being fired from USC on the tarmac at LAX six months ago, the coaching wunderkind has been hired as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the University of Alabama.
As opposed to trying another head coaching job – a career choice that might not be suited for him – the Alabama coordinating job is perfect for Kiffin. He has an incredible amount of offensive weapons at his disposal and will have the ability to fade into the distance behind Saban’s ironclad policy of no media contact with assistant coaches. His two responsibilities will be to coach and recruit. That’s it. Other than fall camp and bowl game week, he will be neither seen, nor heard. And that’s a good thing for Alabama and for Kiffin’s public image. For a coach who has continuously seemed to “fail upwards” in his career, this is finally a smart, conservative move in the right direction.
And Kiffin comes pre-approved after visiting with Saban and his staff last December in a consulting role. Former Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier left for Michigan earlier in the week and Kiffin was the consensus first choice.
“I’ve always had the utmost respect for what Coach Saban has done with his programs,” said Kiffin. “Having the unique opportunity to be here last month, I was able to meet some of the great players and the great people in the organization, and I’m very excited to start working with them.
“We’ve seen the passion and support of the Alabama fans firsthand, and when that’s combined with the storied history and tradition of the program, this is a very special place to coach.”
Saban has vocalized his desire for Alabama to get faster on offense, and a Kiffin-coached offense can achieve that. People forget that before he was a mediocre to terrible head coach at the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee and USC, he was a phenomenal offensive coordinator. In 2005-06, USC’s offense had two Heisman trophy winners (Reggie Bush’s was vacated but that wasn’t Kiffin’s fault), and had 3000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and a 1,000-yard receiver.
“He is an outstanding and creative offensive coach who has great experience both at the college and NFL level,” said Saban. “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.”
I’m not sure how much “passion” Kiffin showed on the sidelines at USC last season, longingly staring into his play card like someone trying to read Russian for the first time, but the passion requirements will be left up to Saban and Scott Cochran. Kiffin was never an inspirational figure at USC; it was always Pete Carroll or Ed Orgeron. As a shadowed, visored figure in the coaches box, Kiffin will call plays for Derrick Henry and Alabama’s eventual quarterback while the rest of the coaching staff riles up the team.
His conservative play-calling and bubble screen drinking game when he was head coach at USC shouldn’t follow him to Alabama and he might actually open up the play-calling like Saban wants. Also, the security around him when the Crimson Tide visit Knoxville in October will be hilarious.