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.
It’s become a theory among some in the media that Butch Jones is conducting a social experiment or participating some sort of performance art. While that’s the more charitable and fun interpretation, I tend to think the Tennessee head coach is just frighteningly insecure and, thus, fighting for every inch of public approval he can in a likely doomed attempt to keep his job.
That approach has backed him into some verbal corners that, in the long run, make his job more difficult on himself.
I’m talking about the “Champions of Life” quote of last season or, in February, actually stating that he didn’t want 5-star players, he wanted 5-star hearts.
This season has seen Jones go on an odd rant blaming the media for negative recruiting and saying Tennessee had one of the best bye weeks ever last week.
It wasn’t one of the best bye weeks ever, because Tennessee lost at home to South Carolina, 15-9. And you’re not going to believe Jones’s explanation for why Tennessee loss. Scratch that. You will believe his explanation, and that’s the problem here, isn’t it?
Here’s the full quote.
Jones is 33-24 in his four-plus seasons in Knoxville, and 14-21 in the SEC. Those numbers will likely fall to 33-25 and 14-22 after Saturday, when the Vols face No. 1 Alabama. The end is likely near.
And here’s the grand irony of Jones’s everything’s-sunny-here p.r. strategy: his attempt to keep his job by stating blatantly cliche quotes in the state of the obvious will live on much longer than Jones’s actual tenure. Two and three years from now, when Jones is working on someone else’s staff or sitting on his buyout money, the next time an on-the-hot-seat coach says his team won the game everywhere except the scoreboard, we’ll see he Pulled a Butch.
Houston Nutt wanted money and an apology from Ole Miss. He’ll have to settle for the second of the two — and a largely different future for the program he used to lead.
It was Nutt’s lawsuit, remember, which exposed the documents that led to a Mississippi State fan finding Hugh Freeze‘s call to a Tampa escort service, which led to Freeze’s resignation, which led to… we have no idea what it will lead to, but, whatever that future is, it will be wildly different than if Freeze was still the Rebels’ coach.
Nutt amended his lawsuit in August to seek simply an apology from Ole Miss, and that apology finally came on Monday.
Each side released their own bitter, short statements.
Nutt will go on, with his apology but without any monetary compensation, while Ole Miss will play out the string of this season, hire a new coach, and move into a future that will be immeasurably different that the one it would have lived had it apologized to Nutt in the first place.
No. 12 Washington’s loss to Arizona State was a disaster on the field — for more reasons than one.
The Huskies not only put their College Football Playoff hopes in danger — they’ll need to sweep their next six games, including a finishing kick that calls for games against No. 22 Stanford, No. 15 Washington State and, presumably, No. 11 USC, two of them away from Seattle. But the road to get there became noticeably more difficult after losing two starters.
Left tackle Trey Adams suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, and cornerback Jordan Miller sustained a broken ankle. Head coach Chris Petersen confirmed Monday that both will be lost for the season. Miller is the third Husky this season to suffer a broken ankle.
The Seattle Times noted that Washington is also without another starting corner in Byron Murphy, who is expected to return later this year from a broken foot. The Huskies are expected to replace Miller with either a pair of true freshmen or a converted running back.
But Adams may be the bigger loss for the Huskies. A junior, Adams was widely expected to be a first round pick in this spring’s NFL Draft. It’s the second straight season Washington has lost a key player in the trenches to a season-ending injury; a year ago, it was linebackers Joe Mathis, who finished one sack away from the team lead despite playing in only seven games, and third-leading tackler Azeem Victor.
Maryland AD Kevin Anderson will not be the Maryland AD for the next six months.
Anderson announced Monday he will take a 6-month sabbatical to focus on “professional development.” That leave of absence will see him remain on his national committees with the NCAA and NACDA, the professional organization of ADs.
It was reported over the weekend that Anderson would be out completely as Maryland’s AD, but those reports were knocked down by the university.
Additionally, Maryland announced that former Georgia AD and current Terps associate AD/CFO Damon Evans will run the department in Anderson’s stead.