He’s preparing FAU for its second Conference USA title game in three years. Sources tell OwlAccess.com that he’s also engaged in substantial talks with Arkansas officials to fill their vacant football coaching position.
Kiffin met with Arkansas on Sunday, one day after he led the Owls to a 34-17 victory over Southern Miss that clinched their berth in Saturday’s C-USA championship game.
Should Kiffin elect to leave for Arkansas, he’d owe FAU at least $1.8 million to buyout his contract and a home loan provided by the school. That number could jump as high at $2.3 million depending on the timing of his departure.
In such instances, the school hiring the coach often covers the buyout from the previous school.
FAU is currently working on a raise for Kiffin, who makes a base salary of $950,000 per year, but the Owls understand that would not be able to match the financial package a school like Arkansas can offer. Kiffin’s contract stipulates that he’ll be the Owls coach through the 2027 season, but all buyouts are gone following the 2021 season.
Sources say that Kiffin has not accepted the job, and his doing so is far from a certainty. A jump to Arkansas would be Kiffin’s third stint in the SEC. He coached Tennessee in 2009, leaving after one season to become coach at Southern Cal. Kiffin also served as Alabama’s offensive coordinator from 2014-16, winning a national title in 2015.
In three seasons as FAU’s coach Kiffin’s led the Owls to a 25-13 record that included the 2017 C-USA championship and the Boca Raton Bowl title.
Winners of nine of their past 10 games, the Owls are the early favorite to defeat UAB on Saturday.
The timing of Kiffin’s Arkansas interview could be more problematic than simply posing a distraction for the Owls.
The Dec. 18 early signing day for football recruits is quickly approaching. Ten recruits have already pledged their commitments to the Owls 2020 recruiting class, and unlike last recruiting period FAU intends to sign all of its early commitments in December.
It’s unlikely that all commitments would sign with FAU in December should Kiffin leave.
Arkansas isn’t the only Power 5 school interested in Kiffin. Over the past couple weeks Florida St. also researched Kiffin and sources say that he is among the relatively small number of candidates the Seminoles are considering.
Should Kiffin leave, he would be the first coach in program history to depart FAU for a better job. Kiffin’s predecessor, Charlie Partridge, came to FAU for the 2014 season after serving as the defensive line coach at Arkansas.