Lane Kiffin will get another chance for success as a head coach in college football.
According to multiple reports, the former Tennessee and USC coach and current Alabama offensive coordinator will be the next coach at Florida Atlantic. Kiffin will replace Charlie Partridge, who was fired after three-straight 3-9 seasons.
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 12, 2016
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 12, 2016
According to the reports, Kiffin will remain offensive coordinator through the College Football Playoff.
This job will most certainly be a pay cut for Kiffin, who is making $1.4 million as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. Partridge made $590,000 last season and Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com said FAU wasn’t planning to spend more than $600,000 on a new coach.
After he was fired from USC in September 2013, Kiffin, 41, has shown his worth as an offensive coordinator with the Crimson Tide. He coordinated an offense led by quarterback Blake Sims to the College Football Playoff in 2014 and Alabama won the national title in 2015 with Jake Coker as the team’s signal caller.
Coker graduated after the 2015 season, so 2016 has been Kiffin’s third quarterback in three years at Alabama. With freshman Jalen Hurts at QB, Alabama’s offense has averaged 6.6 yards per play while Hurts and running back Damien Harris have both run for over 800 yards.
Florida Atlantic is a program looking for relevance in college football. A member of Conference USA since 2013, the Owls haven’t been to a bowl game since a Motor City Bowl win following a 6-6 season in the Sun Belt in 2008.
Kiffin was mentioned as a possibility to move to LSU to be the offensive coordinator under Ed Orgeron. While it was a lateral move in terms of job level, Kiffin and Orgeron are former co-workers at USC and Kiffin would have likely gotten a pay raise. Now that Kiffin is a head coach, Alabama and coach Nick Saban don’t have to worry about facing a former assistant every year.
And the Tide have a fairly seamless in-house replacement for Kiffin if it chooses to go in that direction. Former USC coach Steve Sarkisian is serving as an analyst for Alabama following his 2015 departure from the school because of alcohol issues. When he was hired at Alabama in September, Saban said Sarkisian was in a “very positive position.”
Sarkisian and Kiffin were co-offensive coordinators at USC under now-Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll.
Kiffin got his first head coaching job in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders before the 2007 season. He went 5-15 with the Raiders and was fired four games into 2008.
He became the head coach at Tennessee in 2009 and went 7-6 after a loss to Virginia Tech in the Peach Bowl. After Carroll left for the NFL, Kiffin was hired as his replacement before 2010 and USC went 8-5 and 10-2 in his first two seasons with the team.
Things went south from there as USC dealt with NCAA sanctions from the Carroll era. USC was 7-6 in 2012 and 3-2 in 2013 before Kiffin was famously fired after a blowout loss to Arizona State.
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