Friday, January 10, 2014

Alabama Hires Lane Kiffin--Big Mistake

It's official.

Alabama football coach Nick Saban has lost his mind. How else can you explain his hiring ex-USC head coach Lane Kiffin to be the team's new offensive coordinator? That's what just happened today. It's what Bama fans, in the chat rooms, have been praying wouldn't happen.

The 38-year-old Kiffin, a pariah since USC athletic director Pat Haden fired him in the middle of the night at Los Angeles Airport last September, is now Bama's problem. According to my SC sources, the players celebrated his exit back then.Without his sour, dour presence, SC, reeling after five games, blossomed into a ten-win team.

After that you figured Kiffin would wind up in some obscure place where they'd be happy to get a big name and wouldn't care about the baggage. Big schools, it seemed, would steer clear of such damaged goods. But then along comes Saban....

I always thought Saban was the smartest coach in college football, the one guy you could count on not to make a stupid move, the guy who's several steps ahead of the competition Then he pulls a blunder like this. Possibly losing his last two games, the Iron Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, has jarred a screw loose.

Saban needed a new offensive coordinator because Doug Nussmeier left Thursday to take the OC job at Michigan. Kiffin was brought in as a consultant during the Sugar Bowl preparations to help devise schemes to beat Oklahoma. Reportedly Nussmeier wasn't too happy with Kiffin hanging around, butting in. Maybe that's why he jumped to Michigan.

The Kiffin hiring makes no sense. If a coach is constantly getting run out of town, aren't there red flags all over the place warning you to steer clear of him? After his impressive tenure as offensive coordinator on Pete Carroll's SC staff , Al Davis hired Kiffin as Raiders head coach in 2007. A year later Davis dumped him, calling him a liar and disgrace to the organization. Kiffin's next job, coaching Tennessee, ended ugly after a year in 2009, with hate-filled fans chanting good riddance. From there he landed back at SC for a few seasons, with intermittent success. You know how that ended.

After the SC firing, his players were bitching about him. It's clear that his communication skills need polishing. He badly mishandled the quarterback controversy, dividing the team. His players finally stopped playing for him. Part of coaching is having a good relationship with the players and knowing how to motivate them and keep them focused. In that part of the job Kiffin is a miserable failure.

So why does Saban want to bother with Kiffin? Clearly he sees something the rest of us don't. According to sources close to Bama, many fans and boosters want nothing to do with Kiffin,  regarding him as a cancer who's going to cause nothing but trouble.

OK, Kiffin is a skilled OC. But there are plenty of talented offensive coordinators out there, guys who can do the job as well or better than Kiffin, guys with no tarnished history. Kiffin is one giant headache. Saban will  find out the hard way.