Grab your popcorn and buckle up.
One week before they faced Clemson for the 2016 national championship, Alabama announced that Lane Kiffin, who the month before had been named as the head coach at FAU, was leaving as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator in order to focus on his new job. Steve Sarkisian took over calling plays for Kiffin in the title game, with the latter ultimately watching his former team on television at a Boca Raton resort.
What Kiffin ended up watching was the Tide jumping out to a 14-7 halftime lead, only to see the Tigers score 21 fourth-quarter points, including a touchdown with just one tick left on the clock, to pull out a 35-31 win to claim its first national championship in over three decades.
UA’s offense was held to 376 yards, which led Kiffin, in the heat of the moment immediately after the loss, to think to himself that he could’ve made a difference if he had been there. In the ensuing months, Kiffin’s stance hasn’t changed. In fact, he’s even more resolute.
From the Washington Post:
What about now, eight months removed? If Saban hadn’t removed him, does he think Alabama would have won?
“I do,” Kiffin said. “It’s no disrespect to Steve. No matter who it was, you’ve been there all year long. You’ve been there for the quarterback. You’re all he knew. You were undefeated together. We’ve won  straight games together. You feel like, okay, it’s different. As great as Sark is, it’s just different. Again, if it had been 14 points either way . . . when it’s one play here or there, you think if those guys had the person they were used to, it would have made a difference.
It should be noted that, in Kiffin’s final game as coordinator, ‘Bama put up just 326 yards of offense in the College Football Playoff semifinal win over Washington, its second-lowest output of the season behind the 323 they totaled in an early-November win over LSU.
As for Kiffin going public with his private thoughts? Right or wrong, Lane’s gonna Lane. And that ain’t gonna change.
Makes for good copy, though.