Like many in Bama Nation, I have spent the last few days occasionally saying the same thing: “Lane Kiffin? Lane Kiffin? LANE KIFFIN!?!?!?” (Especially awkward when I randomly did this while grocery shopping.)
The collective aghast at Kiffin being named the new Bama OC is easy to explain. Kiffin is one of the most disliked figures in football, and he’s earned plenty of that with good old-fashioned arrogance. He’s brash. He’s a trash talker. He’s got that unbearable smug swagger. He’s Johnny from “The Karate Kid.” He was a disaster for the Raiders, and he was the OC during the Southern Cal run that has since been erased because of sanctions. He bailed on Tennessee after a less than stellar 7-6 season, but even Bama faithful felt a smidge bad for the way he left Tennessee in ashes. (Just a smidge, mind you.)
And most football fans experienced delicious schadenfreude when he got canned from USC five games into last season.
So why would Bama, Saban and The Process bring on this walking football lightning rod into one of the most efficiently-run and respected programs in the country? Okay, folks, grab your cup. It’s time to take a long, deep swig of Crimson Kool-Aid and get on board the Kiffin train. Here’s why Kiffin was the right move:
- Because he’s an offensive coordinator, not a head coach. We’ve got a head coach. You may have heard of him. Kiffin pretty much as stunk it up as a head coach, and maybe that’s because he’s a lousy CEO. But the dude can run an offense. When he was helming the offense at Southern Cal, they lit up the field with nearly 50 points a game and one of the game’s best offenses in history. Yes, he had some amazing talent, but I’m not sure if you’ve checked lately, but there are a couple of rather talented young fellas on that side of the ball for Bama.
- Because he can recruit like a beast. While we may not like what we see on TV, he apparently can win you over sitting in your living room. As recruiting coordinator for USC, they had the top class in the country for three years.
- Because he’s not the one who gave Reggie Bush’s parents a house and got USC hammered by the NCAA.
- Because our offense needs new juice. We sputtered at the end of the season under Doug Nussmeier, and plenty of us armchair quarterbacks questioned some play calling sequences in those two games. We’ve got a stable of studs, and they need to be unleashed to their fullest potential.
- Because we don’t have a starting QB for next year, and Kiffin can coach QBs. He made Matt Leinert into a Heisman Trophy winner and even convinced NFL scouts Leinert could play in the NFL. Clearly, that was no small feat.
- Because he’s a running backs wizard. He had two 1,000 rushers at USC. Given our line and the ridiculously deep stack of running backs, there will be fierce competition from Derrick Henry, T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake, Jalston Fowler, Dee Hart and Altee Tenpenny to get in on that action.
- Because Saban doesn’t let his assistant coaches do interviews. Tough to give bulletin board quotes when Saban hits your mute button.
- Because with AJ McCarron gone, it means Katherine Webb may not be in the stadium. Welcome to Bryant-Denny, Layla Kiffin. Mr. Musburger will ogle you now.
- Because it would really be fun to roll into Neyland Stadium in October and hang 60 on the Vols. Granted, Kiffin should probably coach from up in the box that game.
- Because Nick Saban thought it was the right move. Isn’t that enough for us?
So there you go. I’m on board. Welcome to Tuscaloosa, Coach Kiffin! Roll Tide.
Gulp. Pass the Kool-Aid.