Lane Kiffin explains departure as questions and drama continue to follow him

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday January 02, 2017


We’ve seen two different Lane Kiffins in the past week, but his time at Alabama is over either way.

Alabama announced that Kiffin will move full-time into the FAU head coaching job and Steve Sarkisian will take over as offensive coordinator for the national title game. The Kiffin who says he more mature now was on The Paul Finebaum Show and didn't display ill will. He said it wasn’t fair to the team that he couldn't give his all.

“I was wondering was I always there, because you are bouncing between the two jobs,” he said. “You're interviewing guys at night, calling recruits at night. I was just talking with Coach (Saban). Coach and I were kind of just bouncing it around, and just felt that really, I don't know that for the players, that you can do 100 percent (with both jobs.)…

It's best for the players at this time for Sark to call the game and to lead all the meetings all week long because I want these guys to win, and they deserve to have the best.”

But there's also the other Kiffin. ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported that Kiffin was late to meetings and his public comments ahead of the Washington game about “ass-chewings” and not recalling a happy moment at Alabama played into it. Kiffin denied that. Alabama’s offensive struggles against Washington and Kiffin’s refusal to run the ball at times surely also played a role.

When Kiffin became FAU head coach, he said he could have stayed at Alabama next year if he wanted to, despite all sorts of reports that it wasn’t going to happen.

Saban made it clear Monday that he wasn’t happy with Alabama’s preparation for Washington.

The way we went about the last game, whether it was the preparation, the practice, being able to focus on what we needed to do for our team relative to the distractions that occur when you’re trying to hire a staff and recruit another place and all these types of things,” Saban told College Gameday.

“Hey, Lane did the best he could. It’s a difficult circumstance. We certainly wish him well. We both had a meeting yesterday and again this morning that we thought this would be in the best interest and mutually agreed for both parties to move on.”

A few after the news came out, Kiffin, who isn’t always subtle on Twitter, tweeted this graphic about Bo Scarborough’s big day.

Ahead of the Washington game, Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel spent a day with Kiffin in Boca Raton. He talked about what went wrong at previous stops and what he learned, but the coach known for sticking his foot in his mouth couldn’t help himself a few times.

“I used to say there’s a constantly daily battle between who can take more of my money between (ex-wife) Layla and Obama,” Kiffin told SI.

Then on Tuesday morning, Kiffin said he’d still help Alabama with preparation and could be in the coaches box for the game, with compliance working it out. But Saban said later that day that it’s not something they’re pursuing, and Kiffin won’t be involved moving forward. Fox Sports reports NCAA compliance told Alabama that Kiffin cannot coach in the title game.

Tom Herman and Kirby Smart each juggled two jobs en route to the national title. It’s certainly not easy, but you’re not leaving Nick Saban a week before the national championship game unless he wants you to. Back in 1998, Randy Sanders took over the Tennessee offense before the title game when David Cutcliffe took the Ole Miss job. This situation isn’t unprecedented.

But as Kiffin moves on to FAU full-time now, questions about his maturity and ability to fully handle a head coaching job will remain. Kiffin’s departures from his previous four jobs have now all had all sorts of drama.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.