New book details infamous Nick Saban-Lane Kiffin sideline blowup
During his time as Alabama’s offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin received an earful from Nick Saban on the sideline (and in practice) quite a few times, but there is one specific instance that most remember.
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Yes, I’m talking about the infamous Saban-termed “ass-chewing” in the final minute of last season’s Week 2 win over Western Kentucky. Let’s roll the tape:
Ass-chewing, indeed. So what led to Saban’s ire? According to a new book from Phil Savage, Saban was not happy about a quip Kiffin made on his headset for the rest of the staff to hear.
Al.com, which received an advanced copy of the book, 4th & Goal Every Day: Alabama’s Relentless Pursuit of Perfection, due Aug. 29, has the details:
Saban and Kiffin’s shouting match in the final moments of a 38-10 win over Western Kentucky in September 2016 was caught on camera and became a viral moment. Neither Saban nor Kiffin said publicly what caused the dustup, which occurred after a careless Alabama fumble led to a Western Kentucky touchdown in garbage time. Savage writes that Kiffin said into his headset “dumb players make dumb plays,” which all the Crimson Tide coaches heard. Saban snapped back with “no, dumb offensive coordinators call dumb plays.” There were probably a few expletives left out.
How would Savage know, you may be wondering? Well, Savage, Alabama’s radio analyst, is a longtime friend of Saban.
Savage has been around the game for decades. In addition to calling Alabama games on the radio since 2009, he’s the executive director of the Senior Bowl. That role followed more than 20 years in the NFL in scouting, front offices and briefly as a coach. Savage and Saban go back to the early 90’s, when both worked for the Cleveland Browns — Saban as defensive coordinator and Savage as a defensive assistant. Savage probably has pretty solid intel on this one.
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We all know how the Saban-Kiffin relationship ended, of course. The 2016 season was Kiffin’s third on Saban’s staff after his firing at USC. Ahead of the College Football Playoff, Kiffin accepted the head-coaching gig at Florida Atlantic and was tasked with managing the transition to FAU while preparing to face Washington in the CFP semifinals.
The Crimson Tide edged the Huskies in that one, but the offense didn’t put forth its best showing and Saban was visibly frustrated throughout. Not long after, Alabama announced that Kiffin would not coach the title game. Saban said it was a mutual decision.
“We appreciate all that Lane has done for our football program over the last three years,” Saban said. “We sat down following the Washington game and talked about the time demands of managing both jobs, and we recognized that it is best for our players, and for Lane, that we allow him to turn his full attention to his new head coaching role at FAU.”
Steve Sarkisian replaced Kiffin for the title game, which the Tide lost to Clemson. Now, after Sarkisian left Tuscaloosa for the Atlanta Falcons, former New England Patriots assistant Brian Daboll has taken the reins as offensive coordinator.
Something tells me there won’t be quite as many sideline incidents with Daboll compared to Kiffin.
For more Alabama news, visit BamaInsider.com.
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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!
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