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Alabama AD’s first reaction to Lane Kiffin hire ‘wasn’t very positive’

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Much to the shock of many and delight of some, Alabama announced back in January of this year that Nick Saban had hired Lane Kiffin — he of the one-and-done at Tennessee that left myriad burned SEC bridges in its wake — as his new offensive coordinator at Alabama.

Even as some praised the hiring, many more were confused, bemused, befuddled or downright giddy that such an unlikely Saban/Kiffin marriage could and would actually come to fruition.  Still others were downright suspect about the move, a group that, it turns out, would include the head of Alabama’s athletic department.

In a Q&A with the Anniston Star, Bill Battle was asked about his thoughts on the hiring of Kiffin as coordinator.  Much to Battle’s credit, he didn’t shy away from his initial reaction.

“My first reaction, because I didn’t know Lane, wasn’t very positive,” the AD stated bluntly.

Thanks to a little nudging from Kiffin’s new boss, however, Battle began to dig deeper into the whole “Kiffin Experience” and came away thinking highly of the hiring.

“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. I followed up and talked to several different people. I called (athletics director) Pat Haden at Southern California. I talked to David Blackbird, 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. 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.”

Whether Battle — or even Saban — feel the same way about the addition a year from now remains to be seen.  Then again, if Kiffin can rebuild his battered image with a successful stint in Tuscaloosa, he may not be around for long as another head coaching gig could be just around the corner for a coach who won’t turn 40 until May of next year.

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38 Responses to “Alabama AD’s first reaction to Lane Kiffin hire ‘wasn’t very positive’”
  1. earpaniac says: May 3, 2014 11:07 AM

    Perfect place for Kiffin. He can rebuild his reputation, and remember, he once was thought to be a pretty good offensive mind.

  2. irishdodger says: May 3, 2014 11:31 AM

    U may be right…but…Charlie Weis was thought of as a great offensive mind, too.

  3. gary2525 says: May 3, 2014 11:48 AM

    I don’t care if he is a great offensive cord. He is trouble and a snake

  4. spreadthecheese says: May 3, 2014 11:49 AM

    Tennessee says to Alabama, “Yes, Kiffin was a great hire. You should fire Saban and replace him with Dooley while you’re at it, too.”

  5. sportsguy3434 says: May 3, 2014 11:56 AM

    Yeah they thought he would be a great fit. Maybe they were looking out for their own interests. Trojan horse is being delivered.

    Or he will be wildely successful.

  6. lanzurrah says: May 3, 2014 11:57 AM

    Bubble screens for days….

  7. dhardy8207 says: May 3, 2014 12:13 PM

    Said this before and I’ll say it again… Kiffin needs to make this work and keep his actions legit if he wants another shot at the HC position…

    I was unconfortable and skeptical of him being hired at UA, but if anyone can give him a chance to rebuild his image and improve the college football world’s view of him it is Saban. I am a firm believer that Saban wouldn’t put his own rep on the line if he thought Kiffin would not make good of this opportunity.

    If he screws this up, he’s done as far as coaching goes. Better get that little wifey of his ready to do the runway…

  8. gatorprof says: May 3, 2014 1:45 PM

    Battle’s initial reaction was the correct one.

    People always said that Kiffin had to have made a deal with the devil given his wife and his job progression. Looks like the devil has called him home to be a formal assistant.

  9. bamabelle3 says: May 3, 2014 2:03 PM

    WOW…..Such negativity, which is what our society breeds! Maybe the guy doesn’t EVER want another chance at HC. Maybe, just maybe, he has found his niche. Why don’t the naysayers just wait and see, and quit judging based on past experiences. I believe Saban knows what he is doing…and he doesn’t give a flying rat’s behind what anyone else thinks! I don’t think Saban would have hired him if he didn’t believe he could do something positive for his program. Everyone deserves a second chance…without people calling them “the devil” or any other negative name. So SHUT UP AND ROLL TIDE!!!!

  10. dcroz says: May 3, 2014 2:40 PM

    Let’s be honest: Battle’s opinion didn’t count for squat when it came to Saban’s decision to hire Kiffin. Saban is the real power in the athletic department, and Battle is there to do fundraising (considering the guy sold his last business for $100 million, it’s something he knows about) and keep the seat warm for either Ozzie Newsome or Saban himself when he’s ready to step down from coaching. The plan was for Mal Moore to remain in that position until that time came, but with his sudden death last year, Battle became the stand-in. Battle is in his 70s, so it’s not like you’d figure he would be any kind of long-term solution. Saban gave him the consult as a courtesy; he reports directly to the president and not the AD per his contract. He was going to hire Kiffin even if Battle screamed his head off against it.

  11. Deb says: May 3, 2014 5:23 PM

    The football world is filled with great football minds that excel as coordinators but can’t handle the responsibilities of a head coach. Kiffin makes me think of Josh McDaniels, currently OC for the New England Patriots. McDaniels has a great offensive mind, but always seemed a little weasely to me–never moreso than during his brief stint as head coach of the Broncos. I thought Belichick was crazy for taking him back into the Pats fold–but BB knew exactly what he was getting, and it’s worked out well.

    As a Bama fan, I’m hoping the Kiffin hire will work out equally well for Saban, a Belichick protégé. If it doesn’t, I’m sure Nick won’t hesitate to show him the door. Of course, great offensive success for McDaniels and/or Kiffin will probably lead to new head-coaching offers. Both are 38 and may have matured enough to find success at the top on their next go-rounds … but I’d still be skeptical about letting either of them run the whole show.

  12. iwishwvuwouldbeatbama says: May 3, 2014 5:51 PM

    Pretty much what Saban did here was name his future successor. I think he is getting restless in Alabama, the guy likes to move around a lot. If you do not think he would leave you just look at LSU. He left them as one of the best college teams out there. Mark my words Kiffin is wearing that goofy straw hat in a couple of years!

  13. Deb says: May 3, 2014 8:21 PM

    @iwishwvuwouldbeatbama …

    Nick doesn’t get to pick his successor. No matter what Saban accomplishes at Bama, the Powers That Be will choose his successor. And if anyone on his staff were the current favorite for that position, it would be DC Kirby Smart. That may change going forward, depending on how Kiffin performs.

  14. whoops7458 says: May 3, 2014 8:36 PM

    Who cares, the Big Ten is back!Ohio State this year and Iow Hawkeys, seriously!

  15. bralinshan says: May 3, 2014 9:10 PM

    I find it interesting that some people in life have no ability to give somebody a second chance. There can be no learning and growth and certainly no redemption in their eyes.
    Of course, if they make a serious mistake in their own lives, they would certainly not wanted to be treated that way.
    Believe it or not, people in all walks of life can actually turn their personal or business past around and redeem themselves. I’m not a Kiffin fan but am also not pulling against him. He didn’t murder anyone. He wasn’t a proven racist. He didn’t steal somebody’s wife. He made some mistakes as a football coach. Maybe he’ll learn and maybe he won’t…but, he deserves another chance to coach football.

  16. iwishwvuwouldbeatbama says: May 3, 2014 9:39 PM

    @ Deb,

    Good point, I just feel like he is going to take all that talent and run with it. If Bamma starts putting up 400 yards through the air each game I think he gets the nod in the future.

  17. Deb says: May 3, 2014 10:34 PM

    @iwishwvuwouldbeatbama …

    If Bama becomes an aerial show, no one will be around to name a successor because the Powers That Be will all have coronaries. I’ll be pretty discombobulated myself :)

  18. jarzmel says: May 3, 2014 10:51 PM

    In AlabaME, Battle isn’t God. Saban is.

  19. barkleyblows says: May 3, 2014 10:58 PM

    One cheat joining another cheat. Shocking

  20. coolhorn46 says: May 4, 2014 3:16 AM

    Kiffin was half of a good offensive coordinator staff back in the day at USC. He knew coming into this job that he’d get his marching orders from the Nick. Coach the offense, and otherwise, keep quiet…and that’s exactly how Kiffin is playing it. He’s smart enough to know that this is his best chance to repair his rep and someday get another shot as head coach. I don’t expect him to make a lot of waves on ‘Bama’s staff, but I do expect him to coach up the Tide’s quarterbacks. It’ll take time to prove it, but Saban makes very few poor hires.

  21. sprtmano says: May 4, 2014 7:43 AM

    The Kiffin’s are moral garbage, they fit in fine with the Alabama trash.

  22. dhardy8207 says: May 4, 2014 8:28 AM

    And there it goes ladies and gentlemen. Didn’t take long for some bigotted idiot to come on a post about Alabama and proceed to spew their derogatory comments. It amazes me how many creatures walk on two feet that have such disdain for people they don’t know. So easy to judge all the citizens of a state by random foolishiness of a few or by its historical past.

    @bralinshan said it best; we are a judgemental society that never allows personal growth, intolerance in giving people a second chance and take every opportunity to insult others. No, its always easier to latch on to stereotypes just so some can feel superior in their own little worlds. Makes me wonder how our young men and ladies find the will to fight in the military along side some of the Alabama or southern trash. I guess when you’re at war the person’s origin, race, or social class is not an issue…

  23. onlyoneleft says: May 4, 2014 11:58 AM

    Saban hired his replacement.

  24. bamainmissouri says: May 4, 2014 1:47 PM

    I admit when he was hired I said “no way!”. He will be fine under Saban and he is an offensive guru. I think the offense will open up more this year. Can’t wait to see Bama rack some points up this year with all the talent they have! Coker has the job at qb hands down. Roll Tide!!!!

  25. huskerzfan says: May 4, 2014 6:06 PM

    So Saban hired an Offensive Coordinator without the approval from the AD before the hire was made?

  26. dcroz says: May 4, 2014 6:27 PM


    Saban reports to the president, not the AD, so he can hire and fire at his leisure. As I said earlier, he discussed it with Battle as a courtesy, but the decision was Saban’s to make regardless of what the AD thought about it.

  27. mogogo1 says: May 4, 2014 7:03 PM

    Main question remains why would you want to invite trouble into your program like that? There are plenty of guys who know as much if not more about offense who would have brought zero baggage with them.

  28. iwishwvuwouldbeatbama says: May 4, 2014 9:25 PM

    @ mogogo1,

    To answer your question think about what Saban was thinking. Saban believed he would be an addition to Alabama. Saban knows him personally and also knows more about football then anyone on this forum. This is not a mistake, rather its a high percentage play. You take a guy who is great with offenses, surround him with a sick amount of talent, then stand back and watch!

  29. sprizzle2182 says: May 5, 2014 8:22 AM

    i dont know that i would expect USC and UT-Chatt to have our best interest in mind when asking them about hiring someone, however, i DO believe that Kiffin understands what this opportunity means to his career and future in CFB…i think this is the best chance he has to repair the impression ppl have of him and to prove that he’s actually capable of coaching….i dont like him as a person necessarily, but as long as he does his job the way ppl think he can, keeps his mouth shut and his nose clean im happy with the hire…im willing to give him a chance to change my mind, and i think thats most ppls view as well…if Petrino can keep getting hired, what cant Kiffin? ROLL TIDE

  30. granadafan says: May 5, 2014 12:18 PM

    Bama also hired the snake Tosh Lupoi who screwed over CAL by recruiting players to UW while still employed by CAL. Then he paid for tutors at UW. Don’t be surprised if Bama gets nailed for violations in the near future…. again.

  31. florida727 says: May 5, 2014 2:28 PM

    Personally, I’m not a lover or hater of Kiffin’s. I say, give him his chance. The good thing about sports, especially at the highest levels of college ball like at Alabama, is there’s no place to hide. It’s a very public life and Lane will either make the most of this ‘second chance’, or he won’t. Either way, it probably won’t take long to find out. Why not wish him luck? To all my ‘Bama friends… Roll Tide.

  32. packerbadger says: May 5, 2014 5:00 PM

    sprtmano says:May 4, 2014 7:43 AM

    The Kiffin’s are moral garbage, they fit in fine with the Alabama trash.

    dhardy8207 says:May 4, 2014 8:28 AM

    And there it goes ladies and gentlemen. Didn’t take long for some bigotted idiot to come on a post about Alabama and proceed to spew their derogatory comments. It amazes me how many creatures walk on two feet that have such disdain for people they don’t know. So easy to judge all the citizens of a state by random foolishiness of a few or by its historical past.
    You mad because someone spoke the truth? Seems the history of Alabumpkin’ was that of a state fighting for the right to own slaves. The history also is one of bigotry and oppression. George Wallace fought to prevent blacks from entering Univ. Alabama. I could keep pointing out your history, but it would depress most people.

  33. dhardy8207 says: May 6, 2014 9:22 AM

    packerbadger says;

    “You mad because someone spoke the truth? Seems the history of Alabumpkin’ was that of a state fighting for the right to own slaves. The history also is one of bigotry and oppression. George Wallace fought to prevent blacks from entering Univ. Alabama. I could keep pointing out your history, but it would depress most people.”

    Not mad at all…. more embarrassed that we have more than one idiot bigot other than yourself on a college football blog spouting a bunch of stereotypical nonsense.

    LOL…You just can’t help yourself in proving just what an idiot you are.

    NEWSFLASH….. Slavery has been over for years and the state of Alabama was not the only state with slave owners.

    NEWSFLASH….George Wallace’s 15 minutes of fame were over in 1972 when someone put a bullet in his spine that left him paralyzed. Poetic Justice serves itself well and that might be something you wish to think about when it comes to this unadulterated hatred you have for the south.

    Do catch up on the times though a god awful lot has happened in the last 50 years! Stop watching Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Shaun Hannity and all the other racists that keep that kind of negativity and hatred brewing in society.

  34. packerbadger says: May 7, 2014 8:17 AM

    LOL @ dhardly! I almost feel bad for beating up on a mentally unarmed individual as you…..but I don’t really.

    I lived in the south….NC for 12 yrs. They’re still fighting the war! And its not even the less educated deep south such as Alabumpkin’!!

    YOU are the one watching the crazies such as Beck and Limbaugh!

    Funny, you never stated what I said wasn’t true!! I win, you lose….again!! lol! Btw, I don’t “hate the South”…. I just hate a lot of “values” that they stand for. I guess you just don’t have the intellectual or educational resources to understand. Another btw…. I watch MSNBC for the most part. YOU can go back to your Faux “news” now.

  35. dhardy8207 says: May 7, 2014 8:34 AM


    You won what?!?!… You sound like some kindergardener that has tried to bully the playground. The only thing you’ve done is prove what a bigotted, deprived, uneducated ass you are.

    But thats the problem when they let mental patients such as yourself with limited social contact use a computer. Try and learn to recognize what is your opinion and what is fact.

  36. packerbadger says: May 7, 2014 3:03 PM

    Ahhhhh…… spin from what you posted. You stated we don’t know Alabumpkin’s history. Ever hear of Rosa Parks? George Wallace was put into office by a bunch of racist, uneducated hic’s down there. You minimize the fact that Alabumpkin’ fought for the right to own slaves by stating “well, others did it too”. You are projecting my friend. You probably don’t know what that means, so google it. What I am typing is indeed fact. Please show me where my facts are wrong. You are beaten here. I love being back home. Here, it smells like victory!

  37. dhardy8207 says: May 7, 2014 3:50 PM


    You really need your meds tweeked! I didn’t say “we” don’t know Alabama’s history… I said its just that HISTORY; meaning the past. Here’s where your delusion can’t seperate from reality.

    Slaves havent’ been owned here in a century. All southern states owned slaves back before slavery was abolished. Your constant blabbing about slavery is a definite indication that you’re argument has no substance.

    Rosa Parks: Outstanding, Outspoken jewel of a person who refused to give up her bus seat to a white patron. She died a few years back and was almost 100 years old…Do you get the “almost 100 years old”. The incident your regurgitating happened over 60 years ago! ITS THE PAST!

    You again bring up George Wallace…. Died years ago and again that all happened in the 60s. You do realize that this is 2014?.. I guess not since you’ve obviously not watched current news, read a newspaper, or been out of that padded room of yours. For someone that so “loves being back home” you sure can’t seem to stop flapping those gums and obcessing about the south!

    BTW you are the beaten one… Dementia is a terminal condition. Hope you shed all that hatred and disdain before you leave here. Hell is kind of hot from what I hear….

  38. packerbadger says: May 7, 2014 5:13 PM

    You’re the one who brought up the “not knowing your history” you idiot. You get called on it and you have a hissy fit. I guess you haven’t been in tune with the news the last few yrs. Maybe you should get factually informed as to how the south is moving. I guess you haven’t seen voting rights for minorities being eroded away down there. Up here, we have an idot governor, but he’s being fought against. I can’t repeat here the krap I heard daily down there and all the hate towards minorities.

    Wisconsin had the best brigade in the Civil War…..The Iron Brigade. We won. .We were and still are better at life than you. I’m guessing you have a lesion in your amygdala. Oh, btw….there is no hell…..I’m good.

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