No. 1: Lane Kiffin to FAU
Wherever Lane Kiffin goes, the media is sure to follow. Hoping to jolt it’s football program back to life, FAU hired Kiffin to be the fifth football coach in program history. The move shocked the college football nation.
ESPN interviewed Kiffin live following his introductory press conference. Sports Illustrated sent a writer. Pundits across the nation wondered how FAU landed Kiffin.
The how was simpler than most realized. Kiffin’s contract as Alabama’s offensive coordinator, a role that helped lead Alabama to back-to-back national title games, expired after the 2016 season and it was an odd offseason for coaching changes – there simply weren’t that many jobs available.
Rather than take a different coordinator position Kiffin, who had previously been a head coach at Tennessee and Southern Cal, elected to become the head man once again.
FAU made Kiffin the highest paid coach in Conference USA, and the Owls now have their highest-profile coach since program founder Howard Schnellenberger roamed the sideline.
Kiffin turned his attention to FAU full-time one week earlier than expected when Alabama coach Nick Saban announced that Kiffin would not be the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator in the NCAA championship game – a game Alabama lost to Clemson.
What We Wrote
A New Candidate
FAU Hires Lane Kiffin
Lane Kiffin Arrives at FAU
Kiffin Ready for “Special Run” at FAU
FAU Now Full-time Job for Kiffin
FAU Spring Game a Thud
Kiffin Says FAU Culture Comfortable with Losing
National Coaches to Camp with Kiffin
Oregon Coach Taggart Predicts Success for Kiffin
Harbaugh, Kiffin Kindred Spirits
Why It’s Important
By signing Kiffin to a contract that will pay him $950,000 per year for five years, FAU president Dr. John Kelly demonstrated his willingness to devote financial resources necessary for the Owls to win.
The assistant salary pool of $1.7 million, combined with Kiffin’s reputation as an innovator and winner, allowed FAU to lure another top offensive mind, Kendal Briles, to be Owls offensive coordinator. Kiffin hired his brother, Chris, to be the Owls defensive coordinator, and as an added bonus famed NFL assistant Monte Kiffin, Lane’s father, joined the staff as an off-field assistant.
Kiffin and Co. promptly brought in what is widely considered to be the best recruiting class in program history, but key injuries suffered over the past six months made it difficult to judge the Owls’ progress through spring. A dud of a spring game, one with admittedly conservative play calling, made that assessment even more complicated.
Few expect Kiffin to remain at FAU for the length of his contract. Will he be one-and-done? Will one good season, one that ends in a bowl appearance, prompt a team from a Power 5 conference to take a chance on him? It’s certainly possible.
Would a fanbase starved for success gladly consider the Kiffin tenure a success if he bolts after one winning season? Again, not out of the realm of possibility.
However long Kiffin is in Boca Raton, the spotlight will be on him and FAU football. Whether it’s a coma-inducing hype video for Signing Day (anti-hype video?), sophomoric philosophical tweets to a teenager or a scholarship offer to a toddler, the national media seems overly obsessed with anything Kiffin.
The Kiffin effect surely has something to do with FAU’s opener against Navy moving to Friday night for an ESPNU national TV audience.
If it’s attention FAU wanted, FAU got it. If it’s wins? That answer will come shortly.
No. 10: Baseball Relationship Ballpark of the Palm Beaches
No. 9: Football Beset by Injuries
No. 8: The Quarterback Battles
No. 7: Schmidt Complex: It’s a Start
No. 6: Buckeye Surprise
No. 5: The Sirens Call
No. 4: One Stormy Week
No. 3: Partridge Fired
No. 2: Forgettable Seasons
No. 1: The Lane Train