Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin may not have been the right guy for the job at Houston, and South Florida ended up going in a different direction as well. Despite missing out on some very interesting job positions, Kiffin will reportedly fill the head coaching vacancy at Florida Atlantic. Brett McMurphy of ESPN reported the coaching hire news, via Twitter. Others soon followed wiht the same information. Bruce Feldman of FOX Sports reports Kiffin will sign a five-year contract.
FAU dismissed Charlie Partridge as the head coach following a third-straight 3-9 season. The Owls, coming off their fourth season in Conference USA, may actually be in better shape as a program now compared to when Partridge was hired even if the record may not show it. Kiffin is stepping into a much smaller spotlight with the Owls, but it is not one that will prevent him from leaving his mark as a head coach. The pressure to win at FAU is nowhere close to where it has been in Kiffin’s recent stops at Tennessee, USC and as Alabama’s offensive coordinator.
The Kiffin-FAU pairing does feel a bit strange at first considering how much Kiffin’s name has been thrown around in recent weeks for various jobs, ranging from potential head coach at Houston or USF to being offensive coordinator at LSU. The big question left unanswered is whether this will be used as a stepping stone to a bigger job offer down the line if Kiffin proves he is capable of being a solid head coach. Such is the life of a Group of Five program, and Kiffin’s name will continue to be thrown in the rumor mill if he has just an ounce of success with the Owls. But Kiffin will get a chance to recruit in Florida, and that should be something he can do well. The recruiting battles in Florida alone just got a whole lot more fun to watch with Kiffin and Charlie Strong coming in to the state.
It is expected Kiffin will stay on the Alabama coaching staff throughout the College Football Playoff run, but who takes Kiffin’s spot on the coaching staff will have to be addressed by Nick Saban at some point. Steve Sarkisian was added to the football staff and could be in line for a possible promotion to offensive coordinator.
FAU hiring Kiffin leaves two FBS coaching vacancies to fill for now. Temple and Western Kentucky remain on the lookout for a new head coach.