Lane Kiffin must have all the warmth and friendliness of a stomach virus.
The coach who still triggers the gag reflex for Vol fans for his one-and-done season in Knoxville is making headlines yet again, this time for his departure from the Alabama coaching staff just days before the national championship game.
Turbulence is nothing new for Kiffin, who somehow manages to keep landing coaching jobs. In his first major head coaching gig, Kiffin, at age 31, guided the Oakland Raiders to a forgettable 5-15 record. He was fired four games into his second season, with Raiders owner Al Davis referring to Kiffin as a conman in a deliberately high-profile termination.
From there, Kiffin found his way to Rocky Top and led the Vols to a 7-6 record. There must have been some hidden magic in that mediocrity because Kiffin announced his unexpected departure in January 2010 to take the head coaching job at USC.
The decision angered many in Vol Nation and produced feelings of betrayal. What added a chop to the throat was UT was forced into somewhat of a last-minute decision to hire Derek Dooley, a laughingstock in orange trousers.
There was no Cinderella ending for Kiffin in Southern California as his coaching reign turned into a pumpkin five games into his fourth season. In his second famous firing, Kiffin was terminated during the flight home after a game and left on the tarmac of a private airport.
You’d think all that would serve as a sufficient warning label, but Alabama head coach Nick Saban gave Kiffin yet another chance as offensive coordinator for the premier program in college football. Kiffin won one national title and was on the verge of a second before announcing last month he would be leaving Alabama at the end of the season to coach Florida Atlantic.
This move was stunning because most onlookers didn’t realize Florida Atlantic had a football program.
In between taking parting shots at Saban and Alabama in general, Kiffin was apparently spending too much time assembling his coaching staff at Florida Atlantic to properly prepare the Crimson Tide for its playoff game against Washington last Saturday. Alabama only passed for 57 yards and needed its overpowering defense to win.
Kiffin quipped that life in Tuscaloosa was like dog years, telling Sports Illustrated, “Three years is like 21.” In a separate interview, he said he couldn’t remember any good times during his years at Alabama, but he sure remembers getting constantly chewed out by Saban.
All this leaves Alabama with a brand new offensive coordinator just days before the biggest college football game of the season. Steve Sarkisian, who joined the Crimson Tide coaching staff in Week 2 as an analyst not even assigned to work with players, will now be calling plays.
So will all this hurt Alabama in its quest for a second straight national championship? I sure hope so. Sink Tide, sink.