Lane Kiffin may have been shown the door from the Alabama football program after accepting the job of head coach at FAU, but that has not stopped Kiffin from attaching himself to the Jalen Hurts bandwagon.
After Hurts and Alabama improved to 4-0 in dominating fashion with another blowout over a SEC opponent, Kiffin went online to share his support for Hurts as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
This is hardly surprising, as Kiffin stands to benefit from any success Hurts has even at a different school. Kiffin was a key recruiter in Alabama’s pursuit of signing Hurts out of Texas (Bo Davis was reportedly influential in the recruiting process as well). If Hurts thrives, Kiffin is able to ell the idea he landed a top-tier player when he is on the recruiting trail looking for his next recruit. Of course, to be fair, Alabama was already a powerhouse before Kiffin’s arrival in Tuscaloosa under Nick Saban and they remain a dominant force without him so far. But for a coach looking to make some noise at FAU, you look for every edge you can get, and playing a role in luring Hurts to Alabama is an easy sales pitch to make.
Hurts is the SEC’s third-leading rusher with 461 yards and four touchdowns. He is also the only quarterback in the SEC without an interception thrown this season. Although his passing numbers have not been overly impressive at a glance, it should be recognized Alabama has not needed much out of the passing game. Alabama’s rushing offense is the top running game in the nation that doesn’t run an option-based offense (Navy, Georgia Tech, and Army lead the nation in rushing offense) with an average of 315.6 rushing yards per game.
Meanwhile, FAU is off to a 2-3 start and 1-0 in Conference USA with the conference’s second highest-scoring offense.
It did not take long for people to start talking about who the next head coach at Ole Miss will be following the Thursday night resignation of Hugh Freeze. And somehow, one of the betting favorites has quickly become former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley.
As noted by Rocky Top Talk, the Tennessee blog on SB Nation, the former Vols coach and current assistant with the Dallas Cowboys is listed as the second most-favored coach to take over at Ole Miss, listed at +500 according to BetOnline. SMU head coach Chad Morris is the current betting favorite on the betting website, with Morris listed at +300 to be the next coach of the Rebels.
Other names on the board include former LSU head coach Les Miles (+800), and former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly (+1400). FAU head coach Lane Kiffin has been having fun trolling about the Ole Miss fallout on Twitter, yet he is also on the board at +1600.
For what it is worth, interim head coach Matt Luke has also been given odds to keep the job, and he is listed at +1200.
Here are the latest odds as listed by BetOnline;
- Chad Morris +300
- Derek Dooley +500
- Blake Anderson +700
- Les Miles +800
- Mike Norvell +1000
- Brent Venables +1200
- Scott Frost +1400
- Chip Kelly +1400
- Neal Brown +1600
- Lane Kiffin +1600
- Mike MacIntyre +1600
- Charlie Strong +1600
- Willie Fritz +2000
- Bryan Harsin +2000
- Bobby Petrino +2500
So place your bets wisely. But if you choose to place your money on Dooley, you might as well just send me your money instead.
When Lane Kiffin made the decision to bring Kendal Briles to FAU as an assistant, plenty of eyebrows were raised. Considering the fallout from Baylor and the connection Briles had to it, it was a controversial staff decision, to say the least. Kiffin explained at Conference USA media day FAU’s compliance office took care of conducting a thorough vetting process to make sure the hiring of Briles would not come back to haunt them.
“They really handled that,” Kiffin said, per 247 Sports. “That was more from an athletic director standpoint to handling all that stuff, talking to him and talking to people there and going through it. Then they felt sure. I was more from a football standpoint, saying, ‘Hey, I this is the guy I want to hire.’ Then they did the rest and said, ‘Hey, we feel comfortable about this.’”
This is not the first time Kiffin has had to address the hiring of the controversial assistant football coach. the new head coach of the FAU Owls though remained focused on what Briles brings to the table from a football standpoint and not what kind of baggage comes with it. A month after Briles had been hired, a report connected Briles to contributing to the disturbing culture that took over the Baylor football program under his father, Art Briles. The same report said a lawsuit alleged 52 rapes by football players in the Baylor football program.
“At the time it was not as magnified as the stuff is now,” Kiffin explained, referring to the timeline of events from hiring Briles to the release of the report. “It really wasn’t like it is now. These articles and stuff weren’t out there at the time. So there wasn’t a shock factor like now would be.”
The shock factor may have been elevated, but simply hiring anyone from the Baylor football program coming off the scandal it experienced alone was controversial enough. That it was Kiffin who made the call brought even more notoriety to the hiring.
Lane Kiffin is having a productive morning in his first signing day at FAU. On the heels of learning Kiffin managed to flip a JUCO wide receiver from heading to UCLA, Kiffin has apparently managed to flip another talented wide receiver to come play for the Owls.
Willie Wright of Jacksonville, Florida was heading to Memphis to play for the Tigers in the AAC, but now he will be lining up to catch passes in Kiffin’s offense in Boca Raton. Rivals rates Wright as a two-star prospect, although other recruiting services have him as a three-star prospect. Regardless, this is a decent addition to Kiffin’s first recruiting class at FAU.
In addition to handling wide receiver duties, Wright also has experience as a kick returner, which could be a role he takes on at FAU early on. Wright was one of the first players to receive an offer from Kiffin once he took over the head coaching job on a full-time basis, and he made an official visit in mid-January. He made one final official visit to Memphis on Jan. 27 as the recruiting battle went down to the wire.
Lane Kiffin being hired by FAU may have been one of the more surprising developments in this recent round of the coaching carousel, but it is clearly an opportunity Kiffin is embracing. Already having made one of the more controversial recruiting moves in his first few days on the job, Kiffin is also looking to help support the school’s scholarship fund by encouraging fans to buy season tickets.
In a letter to FAU fans on Friday, Kiffin committed to making a donation to the university’s scholarship fund for every season ticket sold by the university. With attendance being a notable problem for a number of college football programs, including at FAU, finding new ways to give an incentive to buy tickets is always needed. How many fans decide to buy tickets as a result of Kiffin’s pledge to donate to the scholarship fund remains to be seen. It is also unknown how much Kiffin was planning to donate per season ticket.
But every little bit helps, right?
The hiring of Kiffin has brought a new buzz to the FAU program, something that was desperately needed following three consecutive three-win seasons.