Why did Alabama Coach Nick Saban hire Lane Kiffin?

By The Conduit

My number-one rule of college football is everyone loses football games; it’s how you lose and what you do afterwards that matters. Any fan that can understand this will have a lot more fun watching college football.

My number-two rule is you don’t get to choose your coaches. At Alabama, both of these rules are seemingly more relevant than ever.

If I said many Alabama fans would never have picked Nick Saban to be their head coach, would you say I’m crazy?

Nick Saban hired Lane Kiffin as Alabama OC. What does this mean for Alabama?
Nick Saban hired Lane Kiffin as Alabama OC. What does this mean for Alabama?
What if I asked the same question when Nick Saban was the head coach at LSU? Before Saban, LSU was a program whose football team gave Alabama fans throwaway homecoming weekend football victories for years. There were many Alabama fans at the time who were more excited about Shula than they would have been for Saban. I was probably one of them. Most of us probably knew an Alabama fan or two who were still leery when Saban was hired to coach the Crimson Tide.

In hindsight, Mal Moore absolutely knew what he was doing and hired the best coach in the modern college football era, Nick Saban.

Since then, Saban has hired staff and recruited players at the University of Alabama as he sees best. I didn’t know anything about Kirby Smart before, now he’s probably the most well-known defensive coordinator in the sport. I didn’t think AJ McCarron was Alabama’s next starting quarterback after seeing him compete against Phillip Sims at A-Day game a few years ago, and boy was I wrong about that one, too.

So is it that hard to believe the recent hire of Lane Kiffin as Alabama’s offensive coordinator is a good thing?

It might even be a monumental hire in hindsight.

Kiffin may have been the best head coach at Tennessee since Fulmer, but being fired from the top spot at Southern California doesn’t mean he’s a failure. By the same token, having Sarkezian and Carroll on the title-winning staff at USC when Kiffin was the OC for the Trojans doesn’t mean he’s talentless at the role. After all, you don’t get three consecutive legendary head coaching jobs in a row for doing nothing. Nussmeier was no slouch by any means whatsoever, but his coordinating choices are still different from Kiffin’s, and that may be the point.

What we do know is Kiffin isn’t like Saban.

Yes, he skirted the rules in the past at Tennessee; argue about whether he’s a bad guy or not, but that obviously isn’t what he was hired for (he’ll be under a microscope at the Capstone regardless). Yet the fundamental difference between his decision-making abilities and Saban’s must represent part of the reason he was considered for the coordinator position.

In other words, Saban isn’t just hiring new staff with different mindsets than have been successful before, but he’s also recruiting talent with different skill sets than in the past, particularly with quicker players behind the defensive line. It’s been several years since Kiffin was the offensive coordinator at Southern California, but his skill set is one of many new ingredients Saban’s mixing together for what looks like an exciting renovation to the Crimson Tide.

Speaking of Southern California, the Trojans have a new defensive line coach, Bo Davis, coming in from Texas. Well, at least they did, until Alabama asked him to come to Tuscaloosa. A week after being introduced at USC, Davis is instead headed to the Capstone. Davis will help Alabama’s defensive line better understand and prepare for playing against the hurry-up-no-huddle style offense, having been a coach in the Big 12 where high-scoring and fast-paced offenses are more the norm. I’d be remiss if I also didn’t point out Alabama’s former d-line coach, Chris Rumph, is essentially trading spots with Bo Davis at Texas.

The bottom line is change is always constant in college football, and this time it seems to be more deliberately orchestrated by Saban than ever before.

We’ve seen the posters for the consecutive losses and the “guarantee” of getting the same result if Alabama doesn’t change. The attrition of talent is impossible to avoid; players graduate or turn pro regardless of eligibility rules. Coaches and coordinators too can change just as frequently or, as at Alabama, even more quickly. Did Colorado State “steal” Jim McElwain? Did Michigan do the same with Doug Nussmeier? The answers depend on who you ask, but it’s hard to argue the University of Alabama didn’t help itself this offseason. But if Saban himself is in charge of all these changes, who thinks they’ll be able to predict them and use that as a competitive advantage? Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if most people struggle just to keep up, including me. I can’t wait.

National Signing Day is right around the corner. Alabama isn’t just poised for a top recruiting class (again), but they’re towering above even the closest teams on the recruiting battlefield. Alabama didn’t get everyone, but Saban has put together another strong class. Everything I’ve heard about the coaching changes from incoming recruits and existing players has been positive, if not gleaming.

Change is coming, and so is Alabama. Roll Tide.

16 thoughts on “Lane Kiffin hire shows change is coming at Alabama”

  1. I think Saban’s moves have been superb.

    I’d like to see Alabama’s defense adjust slightly to the tempo. If that means simplifying at times against the up-tempo teams then that is what needs to happen. All this looking to the sidelines waiting for a call while the ball is snapped doesn’t help. Also, I’d say the most infuriating thing about playing Auburn was not the speed of the play, but the fact that players weren’t doing their jobs. Seriously, do they know what to do to stop the trap? If that is a problem, then it really means simplifying the scheme slightly. Of course, maybe the line coach change will help in that?

    Regarding going lighter. I’d like to see the LBs a little lighter to do better in coverage if they are forced into it, and I do think a few lighter players to offer some speed rush pressure when Alabama is forced out of its 3-4 into nickle or dime. Seriously, Alabama spends more time in nickle or dime than base…at least that is what Saban said and I trust his analysis on that.

    Just some frozen thoughts

    1. I’m with you there. Alabama’s defense in 2013 was still one of the best but there was room for improvement regardless. Mosley was nearly flawless, but he also kinda stood alone. He also couldn’t tell everyone else what they were supposed to do the way Rolo did, albeit with more time than Mosley had most of the season.

      My concern is changing too much on offense. Yes, the faster-paced teams scored more points on Alabama (and even more on everyone else), but Alabama also wasn’t scoring enough points. Fundamental errors were the ultimate determining factor, but I don’t think Alabama needs to (or will) divert from it’s fundamental smash-mouth offensive mentality to score the missing points.

      In other words, we’re not going hurry-up, even if the pace increases to any degress. For all the talk about how Alabama’s run and pass yards were almost identical last season, maybe they shouldn’t have been. Alabama’s strength, no matter who ends up as QB, is still in the run game and blocking in the trenches.

      It’s also the way I like football the most.

      I can’t wait to see what Alabama looks like in the Spring. Bringing in two new 5-star CB’s doesn’t hurt, Henry is hungry like a labrador in a Krispy Kreme, and the QB battle alone all but guarantees a premier live telecast for A-Day so the rest of the country can remember what they’re trying to look like. Roll Tide.

      1. Last year,I think it was, Alabama’s offense seemed to have more rhythm when it went up-tempo. Now, does that tell us anything about the offensive play calling and game plans? I’m not a big fan of going after a play call because most of the time execution is the issue not the play call. Yet, I do wonder a little bit about it.

  2. Change is coming , you are correct. Just not sure you gumps are going to like what is about to hit you in your face. The Lane Kiffin is about the same as the Tony Franklin hire by Tubbs. Shows desperation by Saban, and also shows that he has fallen behind. 2014 is the year of the Tigers!

    1. @”Cant spell roll tide without 2 L’s”

      Yep. Saban’s lost it. Brilliant analysis.

      I don’t understand how Alabama has another top-ranked recruiting class since Saban “has fallen behind.” Must be the waterfall in the hot tub. That makes sense.

    2. It is so reassuring that the Auburn fambly and coaching staff is absolutely, totally oblivious to the fact that it took two miraculous plays in two separate games to even earn the right to play in the SEC Champ. game. The third best season in the last 60 years comes on the heels of fluke plays and you think change is coming. You Auburn fans said the same thing after 2010, how did that work out? Bama steps on your head with a 49-0 thrashing on the way to another title, no big deal, Auburn squeaks out an Iron Bowl win only to blow a 21-3 lead in the BCS game and it the greatest thing ever. Can’t you see why Bama fans laugh at you? Doesn’t the “little brother” tag make any sense? I know, reply with some selective “well well we won the SEC and and you Bammers lost the Sugar Bowl and and… Yeah we already know what the “little brother” responses sound like. I’m just glad it isn’t my team in Saban’s crosshairs, that usually leads to dismal years and coaching changes. Don’t believe it? Denial and or ignorance are the only possibilities and neither are good. Have a nice day!

      1. Its amazing that you gumps seem to forget that even without that “miraculous” play in the Iron Bowl, your great bama team with all of its 5 star recruits, number one ranked recruiting classes and your “all world coach” was still only tied with Auburn. In your gump minds you are convinced that without that play you actually won that game! LMAO

        1. Who said without that play Alabama wins the game? Once again lamo shows up displaying an uncanny ability to misread what someone else has said. The fact that this has been going on for years and you continue to return for more is a true example of amazing. It would seem as living vicariuosly through Auburn is all you have left considering Bama’s D had Zack Eatenbooger https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ol3UO1-tjZs crawling off of the field on all 4’s

  3. The retarded piece of shit can’t say anything intelligent, so he just opens his mouth and lets the farts roll out. Tell your family that inbreeding only works with animals. Dumbass!

  4. Gulp.

    And another big get for Alabama. That makes more 5-star recruits headed to Tuscaloosa in this class than any other program. Come to think of it, Texas A&M is the only program to have more than one (two). And with signing day less than a week away we might get some more surprises.

    I gotta find my shades; the future is just too bright…

    1. Dont’t choke Conduit but bama’s two previous back to back top ranked recruiting classes didn’t help you in the Iron bowl or the Sugar Bowl. Gulp! LMAO

      1. Yeah, dumbass – they helped us stomp shit out of your fucking team. They also helped us win a BCSNC since Cooper and Yeldon and Collins and a few others starred in 2012. And Corndog’s top 5 classes haven’t helped you at all! Dumb fuckface! RTR!

      2. @LMAO

        I guess even Alabama can’t win the title every year.

        Four out of seven isn’t bad, though. Roll Tide.

        1. I’d rather be in control of my own destiny every season than hoping Alabama screws up enough for an opportunity I otherwise would not have.

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