PHOTO GALLERY: Boca Bowl Action
BOCA RATON – FAU president Dr. John Kelly offered a relatively simple explanation why he began talking with first-year coach Lane Kiffin about a contract extension.
“I didn’t want to lose Lane Kiffin and I think today proves why we didn’t want to lose him,” Kelly said shortly after the Kiffin-led Owls thrashed Akron 50-3 in the Boca Raton Bowl to complete Kiffin’s inaugural year with an 11-3 record.
A few hours before kickoff of the Boca Raton Bowl news of Kiffin and FAU reaching a contract extension that will tie the coach to Boca Raton until 2027 flooded the internet.
Terms of the contract have not been released because, well, there are no terms yet.
The two sides agreed on the length of the deal but none of the other specifics, such as compensation, bonuses or out clauses.
“Still have to work out some details but it will be easy now,” Kelly said.
The extension agreement came less than 24 hours before the start of football’s first early signing period. The extension, when signed, would give Kiffin a weapon to deploy against rival coaches who try to dissuade recruits from signing with FAU by telling them Kiffin will soon leave Boca Raton.
Kiffin signed a five-year contract contract worth $950,000 per year a little more than a year ago. The 11 wins during his first season make Kiffin the second-winningest coach in program history.
Late in the blowout of Akron, fans behind the FAU bench began chanting “10 more years!” at Kiffin. The chant resumed at midfield when Fans stormed the field following the victory.
“It was a neat day,” Kiffin said. “It was the University saying that they are excited about what is going on and we believe in what you are doing. I wasn’t expecting President Kelly to do that. We couldn’t be more ecstatic.”
GameBrowser: FAU (11-3, 9-0) 50, Akron (7-7, 6-3) 3
TURNING POINT: FAU moved the ball well yet still only led 14-3 with less than 2 minutes remaining in the first half when the Owls took over possession at their own 13. Rather than kill the clock, quarterback Jason Driskel found Kamrin Solomon with a deep ball that covered 63 yards. Three plays later Devin Singletary broke into the end zone, sending FAU into half up 21-3 and breaking the spirits of the Zips.
- Following the game offensive line coach Garin Justice announced he’s leaving FAU to become the offensive line coach at Arizona. Justice’s offensive line plowed the way for a ground game that produced a Conference USA-record 3,994 yards on the season while only surrendering 16 sacks. “That’s going to happen,” Lane Kiffin said. “When you start winning people are going to take your coaches.”
- FAU did get some good news when strength coach Wilson Love turned down a lucrative offer to remain at FAU, Kiffin said. Also, linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, who established a new program record for tackles, announced in the locker room following the game that he will return for his senior season. “If you start something you’ve got to finish it,” Al-Shaair told the media afterward. “That’s what my mom taught me. You never start anything without finishing it.”
- Get ready for another quarterback battle. Jason Driskel had been Boca Bowl MVP for less than an hour when Kiffin announced there will be another QB battle next season. Driskel has one year of eligibility remaining. Oklahoma transfer Chris Robison, a true freshman, sat out this season but will be eligible next year. DeAndre Johnson is still working his way back from blood clots in his arm. And Daniel Parr, the FAU starter at the beginning of the year, has two years of eligibility – though he didn’t play on Tuesday. “As great as Jason’s played, that’s how we build our program.”
- DeAndre McNeal started the year as FAU’s go-to wide receiver, but the former Texas Longhorn disappeared late in the season. He missed the regular season finale at Charlotte and the C-USA title game after suffering a concussion. Scheduled to return for the Boca Bowl, McNeal injured his ankle during pregame warm-ups and emerged from the locker room prior to kickoff walking with the aid of crutches. He never saw a snap.
- FAU will quickly pivot from an on-field challenge to one off the field. The Owls will likely sign at least five and as many as eight recruits on Wednesday, the initial day of the first-ever football early signing period. On Tuesday, former Mississippi St. cornerback Chris Stamps became the latest player to commit to FAU.
1 – Punt for FAU. It didn’t come until the fourth quarter.
5 – Fourth down conversions on six tries for FAU. Three were touchdowns.
6 – Sacks on the season for Hunter Snyder and Rashad Smith, to lead the Owls. Snyder recorded 1.5 on Tuesday while Smith had one.
7 – Catches for 71 yards by Willie Wright. His two touchdowns gave Wright six on the season – tops among Owls.
13 – Tackles for Azeez Al-Shaair to lead the Owls. He now has 354 over three years.
44 – Yards of total offense for Akron in the second half.
52 – Rushing touchdowns for FAU this season, setting a new Conference USA record.
190 – Points scored by FAU in the first halves of the Owls final eight games. They only allowed 59 first-half points during that span.
582 – Yards of total offense for FAU against Akron. The Zips only managed 146.
3,586 – All-purpose yards for Devin Singletary in his two year career, second-most all time at FAU.
UP NEXT: FAU’s season is complete. FAU won’t learn until after the conclusion of the NCAA football playoffs whether it will end the season ranked in the Top 25 for the first time in program history.