Nick Saban raised a few eyebrows when he invited former USC head coach Lane Kiffin to Tuscaloosa in December to help evaluate the team’s offense. Less than a month later, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier left the Tide to take the same position and a raise at Michigan. Saban then quickly turned to Kiffin and hired him to run ‘Bama’s offense.
Kiffin was coming off a tough tenure at USC and some were unsure of Saban’s choice, including Alabama athletic director Bill Battle.
In an interview with the Anniston Star, Battle said his first reaction to Kiffin’s hire “wasn’t very positive.”
“My first reaction, because I didn’t know Lane, wasn’t very positive. I talked to Coach Saban about it. He asked me if I had ever met him and I said no. He said, ‘Why don’t you meet him?’ He had him in for a visit, I spent about an hour with him and I was very impressed,” Battle said.
After their initial meeting and reaching out to a few people, Battle warmed up to Kiffin.
“I called (athletic director) Pat Haden at Southern California. I talked to David Blackburn, who’s the AD at UT-Chattanooga. David was the compliance officer for football at Tennessee when Lane was there. They both told me that they thought he would be a great fit here, and I got really comfortable with it,” Battle said.
Kiffin earned most of his coaching stripes as an offensive coordinator at USC from 2002-2006 before his short stints as head coach at Tennessee and then back at USC.
“Now that I’ve spent a fair amount of time with Lane, I’m really impressed. Our players are impressed and I think our coaches are impressed with how he’s gone about things. I think he’ll be very successful here,” Battle said.
Kiffin infamously left Tennessee following his first season with the Vols to return to the Trojans. He was then fired by Haden following a 62-41 loss at Arizona State in Week 5 last season.
The Tide, who are coming off an 11-2 season that ended with back-to-back losses to Auburn and Oklahoma, averaged 38 points per game last year.
(H/T College Football Talk)
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