BOCA RATON – FAU has put the brakes on its pursuit of Lane Kiffen to be its next head coach, and the Alabama offensive coordinator is now considered to be a long shot to become the Owls next football coach, sources have told OwlAccess.com.
FAU and Kiffin spent much of Friday in negotiations, but those talks broke down Friday night.
Those conversations came one day after Kiffin missed out on the Houston job. According to published reports Houston was ready to hire Kiffin but the two sides couldn’t come to agreement on the buyout should he elect to leave the Cougars prior to the end of his contract.
Similar issues may have stymied the Kiffin’s talks with FAU.
In many ways Kiffin, 41, fit perfectly into FAU’s search parameters – he’s an offensive-minded guy with head coaching experience. Last season, his second with the Crimson Tide, the offense Kiffin built and called propelled Alabama to the national title.
This year Alabama is the top seed in the College Football playoffs.
Kiffin’s head-coaching experience came at Tennessee, Southern Cal and with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders.
None of those three stops ended particularly well. He bolted that Tennessee job after only one season – a move Tennessee fans still haven’t forgiven. During that season the recruiting aggressiveness of Kiffin and his staff drew the attention of NCAA regulators.
USC fired Kiffin in the middle of his fourth season after the Trojans dropped seven of their last 11 games. That firing occurred at the airport once Kiffin’s Trojans landed in California following a 62-41 loss to Arizona St. that dropped USC to 3-2.
Al Davis fired Kiffin midway through his second season, telling both the coach and the media that Kiffin was tearing the organization apart.
Along with being a brilliant offensive mind and a masterful recruiter, Kiffin is also known for his near-Trumpian use of Twitter along with some peculiar decisions – like having USC players trade uniform numbers to confuse that week’s opponent, Colorado.
OwlAccess.com FAU Coaching Search Candidates
Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars, OL) – A popular dark horse pick for the job (if such a categorization is possible), Marrone may benefit the most from the Kiffin talks falling apart. Like Kiffin, Marrone has NFL experience. As offensive coordinator he directed an explosive New Orleans Saints offense led by Drew Brees. His college coaching stint at Syracuse was largely regarded as a success. No one wins in Buffalo and Marrone spent the past offseason actively looking for a head coaching job. Someone to keep an eye on.
Les Miles (LSU, former coach) – If FAU believed it had the money to land Kiffin, the Owls probably have what it would take to at least make a run at Miles. Like Kiffin, he didn’t get the Houston job. The Cincinnati job appears to be going to Ohio St.’s Luke Fickell and South Florida is reportedly in talks to land former Texas coach Charlie Strong. The opening at Western Kentucky could be intriguing, but the longer Miles is available, the more it appears FAU as a chance to land him.
Joe Moorhead (Penn St. OC) – There figured to be a fairly small window in which FAU could land Moorhead and that window is likely closing, if not closed. Penn St. still has the Rose Bowl to prepare for and there’s been no indication that Moorhead is looking for a change of scenery. Could he pop back into the equation now that Kiffin doesn’t appear to be the guy? Sure. But at this point his chances seem to be fading a bit.
Mario Cristobal (Alabama, OL) – Would FAU go from one Alabama coach to another? After trying his best to land Kiffin, would Chun pivot to one of Kiffin’s underlings? It’s possible, but this is a coach that FAU presumably could have landed by now if that’s who the Owls really wanted. A return to South Florida could still happen for the former FIU head coach, but he doesn’t appear to be a priority for FAU.
Derek Dooley (Dallas Cowboys, WR) – Dooley has Power 5 head coaching credentials, leading Tennessee to a 16-21 record in three seasons. He also is familiar with Conference USA opponents, having been a successful head coach at Louisiana Tech. Although he didn’t seem to be too well liked by players, who voiced their negative opinions after he left, Dooley is enjoying success as the Dallas wide receivers coach – where Lucky Whitehead can tell him all about FAU.
Greg Davis (Iowa, OC) – The Hawkeyes haven’t played in two week, so there would have been plenty of time for Chun and company to evaluate Davis. Like the others, it’s still possible that if the search drags on he could become the Owls’ primary target, but that target is hardly locked in at the moment. The No. 25 Hawkeyes will play Florida in the Outback Bowl where they will face Florida. The Hawkeyes were 12-0 during the regular season last year, and beat Michigan and Nebraska this year. Iowa is not a power offense, but Davis deserves credit for developing quarterback C.J. Beathard. He’s a guy who could make Motor run.