'Group of Five' countdown, No. 3: Lane Kiffin, Florida Atlantic


In this Sept. 9, 2017, file photo, Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin gestures from the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, in Madison, Wis. Kiffin never definitively said what his expectation was for his first season at Florida Atlantic, though one thing is absolutely certain. He did not expect this.FAU is already 7-3, with six wins in a row. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash, File

In this Sept. 9, 2017, file photo, Florida Atlantic head coach Lane Kiffin gestures from the sidelines during an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin, in Madison, Wis. Kiffin never definitively said what his expectation was for his first season at Florida Atlantic, though one thing is absolutely certain. He did not expect this.FAU is already 7-3, with six wins in a row. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash, File by Wilfredo Lee (AP photo)

Some names in sports evoke strong reactions in both directions with nobody sitting on the fence. A-Rod. LeBron. Tonya Harding. Nancy Kerrigan. Tiger. And Lane Kiffin.

No. 3 — Lane Kiffin, Florida Atlantic

Age: 43

Record at school: 11-3

Overall record: 46-24

Impressive win: vs. Akron, 50-3, Boca Raton Bowl, Dec. 19, 2017.

Why he’s on the list: Kansas stopped paying Charlie Weis at the end of 2016. Believe it or not, there exists a scenario wherein Weis could begin paying back Kansas on an annual basis with a sliver of the $12.5 million he earned for coaching two-and-one-third seasons of a five-year contract.

Here’s how: Kansas hires Lane Kiffin as its next football coach, Kiffin brings his offensive coordinator, Charlie Weis Jr., and the OC’s father rents a suite from which to watch his son’s games.


Not necessarily.

Many athletic directors would cringe at the mere mention of Kiffin’s name for a number of reasons. He’s brash, outspoken, antsy. Kiffin at various times has blasted Urban Meyer and his former boss, Nick Saban. He’s not afraid to say anything and he’s more than willing to let it fly on Twitter.

For another, he left Tennessee after just one season, bolting for USC, so athletic directors might have trouble trusting that he’ll stick around.

Kansas athletic director Jeff Long, who starts Aug. 1, never has shied from hiring coaches with strong personalities. He hired Bobby Petrino and Bret Bielema at Arkansas. Might Long have the guts to hire Kiffin? He might.

Born in Lincoln, Neb., Kiffin, son of long-time NFL defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, played quarterback for Fresno State and immediately started his coaching career at his alma mater (1997-98), Colorado State (1999), the Jacksonville Jaguars (2000), USC (2001-2006) and then at the age of 32 became head coach of the Oakland Raiders (2007-08), getting fired early in his second season.

Then he went 7-5 at Tennessee in his lone year in Knoxville bolting for USC, where he went 28-15.

USC athletic director Pat Haden fired Kiffin at 3 a.m. at LAX after the team flight arrived from a 62-41 loss at Arizona State.

It didn’t take Kiffin long to find a good job, hired by Saban to become Alabama’s offensive coordinator (2014-16).

Kiffin took a pay cut to leave Alabama and become head coach at Florida Atlantic, his lowest-profile, lowest-paying job in many, many years.

Yet, no season ever did more for Kiffin’s reputation as a football coach as his first with Florida Atlantic, which had not had a winning season since 2008. Kiffin got of to a 1-3 start and then the Owls rattled off 10 consecutive victories, capping the season with a 50-3 rout of Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl.

Kiffin’s Owls ranked sixth in the nation in rushing yardage, first in rushing touchdowns and eighth in scoring.

Kiffin’s likely to make the jump from the Sun Belt Conference after 2018 and it won’t be difficult for a school to get him if it’s a job that interests him. The buyout in his contract is just $2 million.

A school with the resources to pay Kiffin what he’s worth, maybe $3 million, is going to want assurances that he’ll stay long enough to build a winner. The only way to get those is by putting a big buyout in his contract, maybe somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million.

Kiffin has a season as good as last season’s he’ll be one of the hottest coaches available. It might be difficult cramming a big buyout into his contract. If he’s not interested in signing a contract with a big buyout, he’s not the right man for the job.


John Fitzgerald 10 months, 1 week ago

How did I forget Kiffin? He's not only a solid coach but he's hilarious especially when he trolls Saban. But I agree with Jason, I don't see it happening. I wouldn't be mad if it did though.

Mike Hart 10 months, 1 week ago

Kiffin... the same guy who signed a 6 year contract to be head coach at University of Tennessee and then bolted after the first year? The man has never spent more than 4 years in one place. He then spends 2 years at Florida Atlantic and bolts for Kansas? What track record implies he would stay at Kansas for any length of time? I thought we were looking for stability at the HC position. Kiffin? I mean seriously... no loyalty with that guy. This is exactly what we need at the University of Kansas: "Kiffin's departure for USC in 2010 after just one season as head coach of the Volunteers upset some students and fans of the University of Tennessee. When Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton was asked for an assessment of Kiffin's tenure coaching the Volunteers, he responded with just one word: "Brief." Hundreds of students rioted on campus at the news of Kiffin's departure. Knoxville police and fire department were brought in after students blocked the exit from the Neyland Thompson Sports Center and started several small fires". Sounds good to me.. .let's go all in on this guy! smh

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 10 months, 1 week ago

That's an excellent point. I suppose I should restate my opinion that I'd welcome that hire, as I think he's an excellent coach, IF (as Tom mentioned) we could cram a huge buyout into the contract. Maybe he's at the age now where he'd like to "settle down". As someone that lives in Florida and has actually taken a few courses at FAU, I can say it is a good school with a good academic reputation. A big-time, P5 type athletic program it most certainly is not.

[''] 10 months, 1 week ago

The sad thing is FAU is better job than KU now - he'd be a fool to take our job.

Richard Duran 10 months, 1 week ago

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahaha- seriously Keegan you gotta quit having lunch at the Freestate!

David Friend 10 months, 1 week ago

I have been telling friends for months that I could see us going the Lane Kiffin route. And this would fit his ego just fine. If he can turn the program around it would go down as one of the great turnarounds since Bill Snyder. Risky hire yes. But I for one would welcome it.

[''] 10 months, 1 week ago

So we have Candle left and who else? My guess is Willie Fritz.

Jason Venable 10 months, 1 week ago

I'd take Candle. Interesting to see if he was at KU, would he be able to beat his former boss Matt Campbell at ISU?

[''] 10 months, 1 week ago

Good take Jason. That would be a fun game each year.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 10 months, 1 week ago

I think Candle signed a six year deal just last year. It would be extremely expensive to get him I would guess.

Jason Venable 10 months, 1 week ago

He's the highest paid coach in the MAC at over $1M but his buyout clause is $450,000 .

Chump change. No problem getting him for a P5 program.

Eric Eakins 10 months, 1 week ago

The last time KU hired a coach to turn a struggling program around even though he didn't have any staying power in his history was Larry Brown. He definitely turned the program around and won a national championship within 5 years then bolted as he has done his whole career. But that turn around has allowed the Bball program to right the ship and pretty much stay on top since then with two strong hires to follow. Not a Kiffin fan but also wouldn't prematurely close the door just because he has a tendency to bolt. Beggars can't be choosy and if done right it can springboard into staying power.

Bville Hawk 10 months, 1 week ago

As for Charlie Sr. renting a suite to watch the games: is there even any demand for suites at KU football games???

[''] 10 months, 1 week ago

And what is the weight limit in those suites....

Michael Maris 10 months, 1 week ago

Intereting option. Kiffin's short tenures may be some concern. However, he's not going to be offered a job at USC, Tennessee, Alabama, aTm, Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Michigan and other High Profile schools any time soon. So, it may be worth rolling the dice on Lane Kiffin now. With Nebraska hiring S. Frost, that employment option is not available right now either.

Mike Hart 10 months ago

Michael: He bolted Tennessee and a 4 year contract after one season as soon as the USC job was offered to him. He absolutely left Tennessee hanging...If he were to come to KU and improve the program... he would get offered elsewhere.. and his track record shows... He will drop KU and JUMP SHIP IN A HEARTBEAT...

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