Lane Kiffin Hire A Big Mistake At Alabama
by Chris Stephens
Jan 11, 2014 4:32 PM EST
The news doesn't come as a surprise, but just putting the name of the University of Alabama next to that of Lane Kiffin is going to take a lot of getting used to.
According to Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com, the former head coach at Southern Cal agreed to become the offensive coordinator for the Crimson Tide on Friday, a move that did not come as a surprise after former Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier had left Alabama for Michigan on Thursday.
The 38-year old Kiffin had visited with Alabama coach Nick Saban before the Allstate Sugar Bowl "to share ideas and exchange ideas ... (for) professional development," Saban had said in an earlier report on ESPN.com.
"Lane is a really good offensive coach, and I've always had a tremendous amount of respect for him," Saban said. "Just to come in and brainstorm a little bit to get some professional ideas with our guys is a really positive thing."
While it's easy to think that the move is great for Alabama, considering that Kiffin is a decent offensive coach, the baggage that comes along with him just isn't worth it.
The biggest knock against Kiffin has been his struggles as a head coach. While he will not replace Saban at Alabama, he will still be a face of the program, much like Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is for the Crimson Tide defense. However, when Kiffin is one of the faces of a football program, trouble soon follows.
For someone who has been at the forefront of controversy before, as both an NFL head coach with the Oakland Raiders and as a college head coach, Kiffin brings the sort of negative attention to a program that nobody wants. His mouth is what gets him in more trouble than anything, and that will be something that everyone will be keeping an eye on at Alabama.
Everywhere he has been in college football, something has gone wrong for Kiffin, regardless of whether he was directly related to it or not.
As the offensive coordinator at USC from 2005-06, there was the whole Reggie Bush saga. While Kiffin was at Tennessee, there were allegations against Urban Meyer and his illegal recruiting practices at Florida while Kiffin was committing recruiting violations as well.
When Kiffin returned to coach USC, he showed just how bad of a recruiter he was. While he had some success in his first two seasons of leading the Trojans despite being hampered by NCAA sanctions, once his recruits took the USC reins, things went downhill from there. There was no reason why he shouldn't have been able to recruit top-notch talent based on the school's rich tradition.
The 2014 season won't be much fun for Kiffin, either. Alabama visits Neyland Stadium to face Tennessee on Oct. 25, and we all remember how Kiffin gave Volunteers fans false hope when he took over there in 2008 before leaving after only one season.
Add in the fact that Kiffin is a "Type A" personality — like Saban — and you have a problem. Former Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and current Florida head coach Will Muschamp struggled in their one year together in Gainesville. Saban and Kiffin will be the same.
Let's also not forget that Alabama will be breaking in a new quarterback next season. A change in style could prove beneficial in some ways, but it could hurt in other ways.
Alabama is a run-first team. With three top-notch running backs in T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry, one would think the job would be easy for Kiffin. All he has to do is have his quarterback hand off the ball to one of those three, but it will be much more complicated than that on the sidelines.
For now, all seems fine and dandy with Saban and Kiffin, but once the two begin working together in earnest, they are going to butt heads a lot. Kiffin will have his way which he thinks is best and Saban will have his way. While Saban will ultimately make the final decisions, his interactions with Kiffin are bound to create tensions in the coaching staff.
Of course, everything may still pan out because both coaches may be the best of friends and we might not see the issues. Then again, this is Lane Kiffin. Should we expect anything different from him?