PHOTO: USA Today Sports
The coaching carousel got off to a ho-hum start at the end of the college football regular season, but it is revving up in 2014. First it was Charlie Strong heading to Texas which opened up the Louisville job where Bobby Petrino got re-hired after the Cardinals AD had a brief bout of amnesia. Now we have Penn State looking to hire Vanderbilt's James Franklin. It's been quite a busy week on the carousel.
One move that went a little under the radar was Alabama's Offensive Coordinator, Doug Nussmeier leaving to take the same job at the University of Michigan. It's very rare that an Alabama coach would leave Saban's nest for the same position at another school. Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart flirted with his alma mater, Georgia, a few years ago but ultimately he stayed with Saban and got a few extra bucks. If Bama really wanted Nussmeier to stay, odds are the same thing would have happened. But, Nussmeier left and it opened a spot on Saban's coaching staff.
Enter Lane Kiffin. The same Lane Kiffin that took the Tennessee job and proceeded to go 7-6 while trash talking every SEC coach and fanbase along the way before creating a riot on his way out of town where he ultimately went 28-15 at USC and was fired after a 3-2 start to the 2013 season.
Many probably remember that Kiffin visited Alabama in December under the guise of "sharing ideas" and "professional development". Maybe that's what it started out as but Saban must have liked what Kiffin had to say and share since he is now the new Offensive Coordinator at Alabama.
Kiffin will certainly have weapons at his disposal at Alabama, much like he did at USC. He will have to replace AJ McCarron but the RB corps is loaded with TJ Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry and the receiver talent is solid with Amari Cooper, Christion Jones, DeAndrew White and OJ Howard.
Everybody knows Kiffin as the brash, out-spoken coach who enjoys being in the limelight. At Alabama, Saban generally likes to do all the talking and let his assistants concentrate on other things. With Kiffin now in the fold it will be interesting to see how that plays out. If Kiffin is kept in the background, like most Alabama coaches under Saban, I think it will be a big benefit for him. For the first time since 2006, Kiffin will be able to concentrate on one side of the football and not have to worry about all of the other things that go into being a head coach.
Lane Kiffin's career has been nothing short of bizarre. He' s not even 40 years old yet he's already been an NFL head coach, head coach of an SEC school and he's had one of the premier jobs in college football. Moving back to coordinator is a difficult move for Kiffin from an ego standpoint but as crazy as it sounds he probably found the best possible landing spot as he heads back to the SEC to coach under a man he once took a few recruiting jabs at.