There was talk this day would come sooner than now. After the 2014 season, there were rumblings of a return to the NFL and the 49ers, though he released a statement through Alabama stating his commitment to the 2015 season. And there were funny moments like the time the team bus left Kiffin at the stadium after winning the national title game in January. He laughed off a Comedy Central parody of his life before the 2015 Sugar Bowl in his second time talking to reporters since landing the job. And he cracked jokes about Saban's height at an awards ceremony that fall.
The article has some links to the affable Kiffin's more humorous moments with the Tide. And he's still not done: He cracked on Nick Saban at his press conference this morning that he would be back for his 7:30 coaches meeting tomorrow. Knowing Lane, he'll be locked outside a gate, miss the bus, or have his sneakers explode.
Kiffin: "The process starts today here at Florida Atlantic." I've been at a place the last three years that's "all about the process," and we're going to bring that here to Florida Atlantic.
Nice live feed / updates here on Kiffin's FAU (the Owls, not the other one.) More importantly, it seems as though The Process has really made an impact on him. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. First order of business is getting the Owls a QB.
For those who hope Coach Kiffin succeeds, and for those who may like to see him back one day, parroting The Process is a very fine start.
A player Kiffin tried to get? Former Tide quarterback Blake Barnett, who committed to Arizona State last Monday. A coach expected to be part of Kiffin's FAU staff reached out to Barnett last week and told him that they want Barnett to be their quarterback at FAU, a source told AL.com. Barnett, though, said he is sticking with his commitment to Arizona State, according to the source.
But, that quarterback will not be Blake Barnett. And, really, why would he leave the P12 to go the CUSA? Big-armed David Cornwell, on the other hand, may be a tantalizing prospect. Much like Phillip Ely had success at Toledo, FAU may be a perfect spot for the QB guru-head coach and for Cornwell, who just couldn't stay healthy or out of the doghouse. Admit it: that would make a nice double-headed redemption story.
But a funny thing happened over the past three seasons. Alabama coach Nick Saban gave him the ultimate lifeline -- at the time seen as yet another example of him failing upward -- in bringing him aboard the nation's most powerful program. And Kiffin unquestionably succeeded. In 2014, he took a team to the playoff with undecorated career backup Blake Sims as his quarterback. In 2015 he groomed a Heisman Trophy winner (Derrick Henry) and won a national championship. In 2016, he plugged in a true freshman quarterback (Jalen Hurts) and led an undefeated season. All the while he completely changed Saban's offensive philosophy.
Kiffin was more than an offensive coordinator: It was a program-changing hire -- from the recruiting to the offensive philosophy and scheme. It is a testament to his coaching acumen and the trust Nick Saban had in Kiffin that CNS allowed RTDBL to rebuild the Alabama offense as a 21st-century power spread team.
Kiffin and FAU are entering this marriage with no misconceptions. The school needs a game-changing head coach — one who will bring it regional and national attention and that can push what Charlie Partridge had built to the next level in an area that's preposterously ripe with talent and in a conference that’s up for grabs (you see, FAU has a lot going for it) — and Kiffin needs a stepping stone — an opportunity to win again as a head coach so that he can get back to the level of USC and Tennessee.
There's a line in George R.R. Martin's "Clash of Kings" re: Danerys Targaryen (no, I have no idea if it's on the show, because I'm a book-only snob,) that goes like this: "To go forward, you must go backward." While Kiffin was not at rock bottom, his career may have benefited in the long run by starting all over -- this time with the normal career trajectory for a gifted assistant. Let's see if Kiffin 2.0, the career that started at age 38, has a very different chapter.
"I'll like to thank every college program that gave me the opportunity to attend their school, I especially like to thank Miami for never giving up on me I love their coaching staff and the players this was one of the hardest decisions of my life. After speaking with my mom, and coaches I prayed that I choose the right school. But I'm shutting down my recruitment and following my heart and that is to attend The University of Alabama."
Holding on to Jeudy was huge. JJ was considered by many the best WR in the class, despite his initial 4-star ranking. He eventually got his 5th star and has been climbing up the charts the past year, and it's not just the #BamaBump. If you get a chance to check out his Hudl tape or Twitter highlight vids, do so. He is the next special Alabama wide receiver. Like Tua and Moses, he is an early enrollee and will be on campus January 3rd.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide Not much has changed here, the Crimson Tide are still number one and it is by a large margin. The recent addition of safety Daniel Wright, a four-star and top 200 player in the country, extended their lead. The crown jewels of the class are five-star linebacker VanDarius Cowan and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Four-star offensive tackle Jedrick Wills made his verbal public in November, which was another boost to this outstanding class.
Alabama had a lock on the No. 1 class before Dylan Moses signed his aid agreement. Afterwards? This is almost a mortal lock. Meanwhile, Ohio State has a likewise ridiculous class -- 12 players (and counting) in the Rivals 100. Urban and Nick aren't done meeting in the playoffs in other words.
Let's run off the names of the seven FBS head coaches in the state of Florida now, shall we? Jimbo Fisher. Mark Richt. Jim McElwain. Charlie Strong. Scott Frost. Lane Kiffin. Butch Davis. In other words, recruiting in Florida is about to get wild.
This article omits perhaps Florida's strongest recruiter too, Alabama's Mario Cristobal. The Sunshine State is super-crowded though, that is for sure.
Coaching Carousel closes for now
The final FBS coaching vacancy has reportedly been filled, as Temple has decided on Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins as its new coach to replace Matt Rhule -- who left for Baylor -- according to ESPN's Brett McMurphy and Fox Sports' Bruce Feldman.
Losing Collins is huge blow to the Gators, who was one of the few bright spots for a Florida team that managed to cobble together wins based solely on defense. With Collins' and Kiffin's hiring, there are no more vacancies in FBS. I wouldn't expect that to remain static. Someone will get fired after bowl season, jump to the NFL, etc.
That's all for today. Go forth to evil.