Alabama should not listen to Lane Kiffin’s sour grapes

TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 19: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide watches action during the Alabama A-Day spring game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on April 19, 2014 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
TUSCALOOSA, AL - APRIL 19: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide watches action during the Alabama A-Day spring game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on April 19, 2014 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Former Alabama Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin stated that the team would have won the national championship if he was still in charge.

Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post covered Kiffin’s comments yesterday, as the new head coach of the Florida Atlantic football team said, “It got really rough when you watched the [national championship] game. At first, the idea of, ‘Okay, do your job. Focus on this one.’ But really when you watched it and because they lost and it was so close.”

Kiffin went on to say, “If they lose by a lot, you don’t feel like, ‘Okay, would there have been a difference?’ You lose by one play, one second, it’s natural to think, ‘Okay, you could have made a difference.’ If they won, it wouldn’t have mattered.”

Kiffin’s belief in his abilities, whether blind to his faults or not, should be secondary to what he should have done when asked about the Alabama football team. His words, whether true or not, come across as petty months after his time in Alabama ended in such an ugly fashion.

When asked about whether he thought that Alabama would have won the game if he was not replaced by Steve Sarkisian, Kiffin continued to justify his own worth: “No matter who it was, you’ve been there all year long. You’ve been there for the quarterback. You’re all he knew. You were undefeated together. We’ve won [26] straight games together. You feel like, okay, it’s different. As great as Sark is, it’s just different.”

That’s possible. Maybe Kiffin knew that Alabama’s starting freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts still was not ready. Alec Nathan of Bleacher Report states that “Kiffin opted to call 14 passes compared to 50 rushes in the Tide’s 24-7 College Football Playoff semifinal win over the Washington Huskies.” In the national championship game, “Alabama attempted 31 passes compared to 34 runs, while Hurts completed just 13 attempts for 131 yards and a touchdown.”

However, to second guess another offensive coordinator’s strategy in public, without elaborating on all of the variables, is too flippant to say the least. Kiffin’s comments do not show a serious or respectful attitude to Sarkisian or Alabama football head coach Nick Saban, the man who released Kiffin to start his journey for Florida Atlantic.

Play-calling is one thing, player management is another. If Kiffin believes that Hurts was not ready to throw as many passes in the championship game, is that not on Kiffin to get him ready? He is the one to point out how he was all that Hurts knew for almost an entire season. Was Kiffin just playing safe with a quarterback who would not lose the football while riding a top-ranked defence that would make sure Alabama was always in the game?

Saban looked angry on the sidelines with Kiffin throughout the season, and much has been discussed about Saban’s thoughts that Kiffin was not handling the situation with the freshman in the right way. As much as Kiffin may be right that Saban could have waited until after the championship game to make a change, Saban also did not want his disagreements with Kiffin or Kiffin’s actions regarding his new team to be distracting the Crimson Tide that week.

Kiffin’s remarks also could be seen as insulting the Clemson defence, as well. Clemson’s defensive line was absolutely monstrous, especially in the championship game. Sports Illustrated published that they were third in the country in sacks, blowing up opposing offensive lines and feasting on running quarterbacks. Alabama’s commitment to passing the ball may not have allowed for long darts down the field but it did help to keep Clemson honest on defence.

Hurts and the rest of the Alabama offence were able to put up 31 points against Clemson in that game. If it wasn’t for three touchdowns in the fourth quarter led by Deshaun Watson, who was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft this year, Alabama would have won the game. Only Louisville (36 points) and Florida State (34 points) scored more points than Alabama against Clemson last season. Both of those teams have top-ranked quarterbacks. So, where’s the problem, Kiffin?

Even if one is to disagree with any of this evidence, it is still hard to side with Kiffin publicly stating his opinion. Saban offered an olive branch to Kiffin, who proceeded to spew sour grapes in return. Saban did not have to do it, as Kiffin was already a distraction from his previous failures with other football teams. Saban took him on as a favor and through a belief that everyone deserves a second chance. Apparently for Kiffin, multiple second chances have not taught him much.

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If anything, Kiffin could have dismissed the question or changed the direction to something more positive about his own team or his time in Alabama. That’s what many other coaches would have done. Instead, his comments are like a shot at the bow of the Alabama ship just before the season begins. Even if Kiffin is right that the Tide would have won the game with him as the OC, does that mean he has a right to be a distraction to his former team as well as his new team?