There were two job openings (thus far) for which Alabama Offensive Coordinator, Lane Kiffin, was a perfect fit.
The first was the Houston Cougars opening, vacated after Tom Herman stuck it to the Coogs without so much as buying them (or LSU) dinner. Lane Kiffin was considered the front-runner for that vacancy, despite some early noise that former-Alabama OC, and present Houston OC, Major Applewhite was getting some serious looks.
Les Miles was bandied about, Sooner OC Lincoln Riley by all accounts “wowed” the committee before withdrawing, Kiffin had a fantastic interview. As of yesterday, the President just needed to sign off on the deal allegedly.
That did not happen. Today, the Cougars went with the Devil they know and made Major Applewhite Houston’s next head coach. It makes sense for all the reasons Lane Kiffin made sense: it’s a job for ascendant talent, for offensive minds — Applewhite just so happens to represent the Herman era, the Herman offense, and more importantly, is a native and lifelong Texan. He knows the landscape.
Had Houston not hired Lane Kiffin, the next rumored vacancy was USF, for which Kiffin was deemed the “frontrunner.” Boosters loved him, Tampa is cosmopolitan, it’s a program in an offense-friendly league (the AAC, same as Houston) and he would have been a nice fit there.
Now, word out of the Bulls’ camp is that long-time Florida DC (and Luhvl and Texas HC) Charlie Strong is about to finalize his deal with South Florida. Like Applewhite it makes sense — Strong knows the turf; it’s his terra firma so to speak. And, personally, I think it’s a great fit to go from class act, no-nonsense Willie Taggart to class act, no-nonsense Charlie Strong.
Where does this leave Coach Kiffin?
For now, as the last three years, he is Alabama’s offensive coordinator. Unfortunately, that also makes him (or Coach Sarkisian) a very valuable target. Today’s winners are both Alabama in the short run and Coach Ed Orgeron in the long run. Do not expect to keep one (or maybe both) of those excellent coaches at Alabama, unless Coach Nick Saban is able to hire Sarkisian with next year’s 10th field coach that the NCAA is expected to permit and unless the Board of Regents opens the deep wallet for Coach Kiffin on a year-to-year basis.
If you’re LSU you have to feel fairly fortunate that a divisional foe’s talent isn’t going anywhere just yet — they’re still on the market.
And for Alabama, at least temporarily, the Tide retain one of the very best football minds in the nation.