When Lane Kiffin took over at Florida Atlantic, many wondered exactly how his tenure would turn out given his antics at Tennessee and USC combined with the fact that he clashed quite frequently with Nick Saban while serving as offensive coordinator at Alabama.
While the much-discussed coach proved critics wrong in his first season with 11 wins and a convincing CUSA title, the Owls wound up coming back to earth during Year 2 with a disappointing 5-7 record that saw the team lose a number of close games to keep them out of a bowl. Despite that regression, FAU’s athletic director remains firmly in Kiffin’s camp (despite not hiring him in the first place) and believes the coach is a lot closer to the win total posted in his first season than his second.
“I think there’s a lot of tweaks, and I think Lane knows that,” Brian White said earlier this week, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “He’s looking at — it’s not just one or two things — but it’s every aspect of this program: What did we do in the 11-win season that we didn’t do in the five-win season? There’s culture there. There’s leadership there — not only from the coaching perspective but the student-athlete perspective. So we’re looking at a whole lot of different things, but they’re working hard each and every day to figure it out and bringing in even better recruits every year.”
FAU does have to play a pair of conference title winners this upcoming season in UCF and Ohio State but White’s optimism that Kiffin can turn things around is understandable given that the Owls have one of CUSA’s most talented rosters and made a host of staff changes to improve that side of the equation for 2019.
The head coach does have a lengthy contract with the school so it’s not like he’s going to be pushed out anytime soon but it’s certainly comforting to Kiffin and company that their boss sees the 2018 setback as more of a one-off season than what FAU can normally expect down in Boca.