Further Review

Steve Hummer's Further Review blog offers comments, asides and quick hits on the state of sports

From Tuscaloosa to Boca Raton - Kiffin's curious move


Lane Kiffin has taken on many forms in his mere 41 years on this globe.

He has, as a head coach, been a pirate (Oakland Raider), an extremely well-paid volunteer (Tennessee), and a man of Troy, minus the Gerard Butler abs (USC). And these last three seasons Kiffin assumed the role of Nick Saban’s chew toy as Alabama’s offensive coordinator.

And next, in the most curious of incarnations, Lane Kiffin will be a burrowing Owl. That according to various reports. I’ll stress reportedly, because I continue to find this move so difficult to comprehend.

(Pause here to await the Bobby Cremins Moment, when Kiffin comes to his senses and calls off the whole thing).

Going from a coordinator position at Alabama to a head coaching job at Florida Atlantic hardly feels like a promotion. Kiffin is a guy leaving the board room at Exxon for a chance to run a south Florida Jiffy Lube. This is more than starting over – after all, the man who was born with a silver whistle in his mouth was a head coach in the NFL at the age of 32. Kiffin never has coached on such a modest scale as this, and one has to wonder how that will fit with his own rather exalted view of himself.

Kiffin and FAU is a relationship of convenience. One man who wanted so badly to hit the reset button on his head coaching aspirations that he would (reportedly) leap at this offer (after bigger jobs at Oregon and Houston were unattainable). And a program, born by Howard Schnellenberger just 15 years ago, longing for another recognizable name upon which to anchor.

Kiffin forever has been characterized as possessing a fertile football mind, the fruit of daddy Monte’s tree. And something of a coaching brat, who while at Tennessee was the master of the secondary violation as well as the flippant remark.

Contract details are sparse, although ESPN reports that he will be taking a pay cut from the $1.4 million he made at ‘Bama. Hard to imagine there being much of a punitive buy-out clause in the FAU deal, because Kiffin has to be looking beyond Boca Raton. Vegas has not yet issued odds on whether he'll unpack.

Last year at this time Kirby Smart left Alabama for a job in the SEC, as you may have heard. Kiffin is going to a team that was 3-9 this year and hasn’t had a winning season since 2008. He is leaving the nation’s top scoring defense for a team that gave up 77 points to Middle Tennessee, 63 to Kansas State and was 123rd in scoring defense.

His home stadium will be somewhat smaller now – it seats 29,495 and may well be cursed since when built in 2009, it covered 30 acres of habitat of the team mascot, the native burrowing owl.

And I believe Alabama’s weight room may have it over FAU’s by a hectare or two.

It took him a little longer than most coaches, and he had to work his way through some very prestigious jobs first, but it appears Lane Kiffin is finally getting around to paying his dues.


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About the Author

Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.