Lane Kiffin is willing to go to great lengths to motivate his team to face one of its toughest opponents of the year on Friday — even if it means making up quotes from opposing players.
With FAU preparing to take on UCF, Kiffin printed out a quote from Knights defensive back Nevelle Clarke and hung it in the weight room. The comment makes it seem like Clarke predicted he is going to get the best of star running back Devin Singletary.
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) September 18, 2018
The problem? Well, there are actually two of them. For starters, Kiffin misspelled Clarke’s last name. But more importantly, Clarke never said anything about stopping Singletary in his tracks. The quote likely stems from an article in the Orlando Sentinel, in which author Brian Murphy wrote that Clarke is “looking forward to that challenge and stopping Conference’s USA’s reigning Most Valuable Player dead in his tracks.” The only actual quote he attributed to Clarke, however, was Clarke calling Singletary a “pretty good back.”
We know Kiffin has a lot of respect for No. 16-ranked UCF based on what he said about them earlier this week, but he probably should have stuck with just hanging that fake quote in the weight room. The Twitter police catches everything.
Lane Kiffin may have toned down his brash attitude a bit since becoming Florida Atlantic’s head coach, but one area where he remains vocal is on Twitter.
Other college football head coaches aren’t acting so boldly on their Twitter accounts, so why is Lane? He says it helps bring attention to his school and attracts recruits.
“People say ‘Why is he doing that on Twitter? Why is he doing that? Well, he’s doing that because it’s helping the school. It’s bringing more kids here. The recruits like it. The recruits’ parents like it. And our fan base likes it. Maybe someday you guys will get that,” Kiffin told SI’s Andy Staples for a story published on Wednesday.
It seems to be working, too.
Kiffin is bringing in some recruits — many as transfers — and helped the team go 11-3 last season. The school also says applications were up 35 percent, which they attribute to the attention Kiffin has drawn to the university.
Maybe he does know what he’s doing.
Lane Kiffin’s FAU Owls will open up the season on Saturday against Oklahoma, and he knows how difficult of a challenge that game will be.
The Sooners, who reached the College Football Playoff last season, lost Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Taking the No. 1 draft pick’s place at quarterback will be Kyler Murray, the two-sport star who plans to pursue a professional baseball career with the Oakland A’s after the season.
Murray is a special athlete, which will make him particularly tough to defend.
“He’s a problem,” Kiffin said of Murray, via the Palm Beach Post. “These are the guys you want to play the least. People that give you all those problems are the guys who, when plays don’t happen in rhythm like a plays in football, especially college (don’t), they have the ability to get out of trouble and you can cover everybody and have the play matched perfect and the guy still takes off and runs for 15 yards.”
The Post says Kiffin also compared Murray to some of the dual-threat QBs who gave Alabama trouble the past few years when Lane was the Tide’s offensive coordinator.
Oklahoma enters the game as a 21-point favorite over FAU. Kiffin will need some serious magic to pull off a win.
Since becoming head coach at Florida Atlantic, Lane Kiffin has attracted all sorts of attention, including for his Twitter account. Sometimes irreverent, sometimes funny, sometimes trolling, Kiffin’s tweets attract attention.
So is there a strategy behind it? According to the man himself, not really. He simply decided to be his true self after leaving Alabama in 2016.
“It really wasn’t some detailed, thought-out plan,” Kiffin told Adam Kramer of Bleacher Report. “We’re all so worried about what people will say, how they look, what they wear and things like that. I’m not like that, obviously. You only live once.”
Kiffin originally joined Twitter to use it as a recruiting tool, but has taken it above and beyond. He is aware that his tweets are a good way to attract attention from recruits and non-recruits alike, and likes the authenticity it can provide.
“A lot of these coaches have their GAs [graduate assistants] or other people writing their stuff,” Kiffin said. “How real is that? I don’t want to read your tweets that somebody else did. I can look up your stats, your graduation rates and how many touchdowns you’ve thrown on my own.”
Kiffin uses Twitter to offer his thoughts on life, politics, football, and even his former employers. It has certainly made him unpopular in some circles, but given the on-field success they had in 2017 and the recruits they’re competing for that normally wouldn’t be available to a smaller program, it’s hard to deny that his strategy — or whatever you wish to call it — is working.
Lane Kiffin loves to troll Nick Saban and take jabs at his former boss, but this time he decided to come to the Alabama coach’s defense.
A CBS Sports poll asked coaches to identify the most overrated and underrated coaches. One coach called Saban overrated and even said that he cheats.
“If you had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country every year [you’d win like Nick Saban]. He shows up at every single game with a better roster than the teams he ‘s playing. … If you count cheating and getting the best players in the country as part of running a program, he’s the best in the country. It’s like saying an NFL coach is the best coach in the league if he gets 25 first-round picks every year,” one coach said about Saban, according to the poll.
Kiffin was asked about that allegation during an interview with Colin Cowherd and tore it apart. Instead, he attributed Saban’s success in recruiting to his work ethic.
“He’s the best recruiter in the world because of the time he spends,” Kiffin told Cowherd, according to The Spun. “He’s on the phone with recruits every single day. At night he has a list of recruits he’s personally calling himself.
“The only cheating they do is he works harder than everybody else.”
Kiffin further praised Saban on Twitter, calling him the “best coach in the history of college football.”
“The best coach in the history of college football ever!! How can u say he’s overrated??? Coaches just hate on him bc he beats them on the field and out recruits them off the field!!”
The best coach in the history of college football ever!! How can u say he's overrated??? Coaches just hate on him bc he beats them on the field and out recruits them off the field!! @ColinCowherd @AlabamaFTBL @espn https://t.co/XRN5o9b8vD
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) August 23, 2018
It’s good to know that beneath all the jabs and shots at Saban, Kiffin does have a deep level of respect for the Alabama coach.
The general perception is that Lane Kiffin has done a lot to bolster his reputation after a successful season at Florida Atlantic, but to many of the people whose opinions matter most, he’d still be a no-go as a coaching candidate.
Yahoo Sports recently polled 15 college athletic directors on whether they would consider hiring Kiffin at their school, and the feedback was quite resounding: 11 said no, some emphatically by adding several exclamation marks, while two said yes and two said maybe.
“Can he get a job? Sure,” one source said, via Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports. “He’s a world-class play caller, knows the game and can recruit. Do I think we’re at a moment in time with off-field issues and the FBI probe that people are less apt to take that risk? Yes.”
In general, the athletic directors cited his propensity for drama and perception of immaturity as reasons against even considering him.
“Not a chance,” one AD said. “Too much smoke/drama around him. And he’ll probably think he’s Vince Lombardi if he wins another season.”
“Not if it’s the same immature Lane,” added another. “I have no idea if he’s grown up and is ready to be a leader of all things of a program, not just a coordinator and play caller.”
One athletic director was a bit more charitable, saying “I do think he’s rehabilitated his image, so to speak, and is an attractive candidate should he have a great year this year and keep his nose clean.”
But that’s the thing. Kiffin’s schtick works at a school like Florida Atlantic, which wouldn’t get a lot of attention otherwise and likes the publicity he single-handedly brings to the program. If you’re a more established program that doesn’t need to be constantly putting yourselves in the headlines for off-field reasons, the sniping with his ex-boss and the blunt, unapologetic nature won’t fly. Just look at this athletic director’s reasoning for passing up the chance to hire Kiffin and you have the same reason that a lot of his contemporaries would likely give, too.
Lane Kiffin has taken a swipe at Nick Saban seemingly every chance he gets since the two parted ways prior to the national championship game in 2017, and there is still no sign of him letting up.
Over the weekend, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts criticized the Crimson Tide coaching staff for the way they have handled the QB competition between him and Tua Tagovailoa.
@JalenHurts: "No one came up to me the whole spring, coaches included, no one asked me how I felt. No one asked me what was on my mind. … Now when we're trying to handle the situation now, for me it's kinda late. It's too late. The narrative has already been created." pic.twitter.com/adJS7UxmdL
— Alex Byington (@_AlexByington) August 4, 2018
That made Saban and his staff look bad, which is something Kiffin greatly enjoys. Not surprisingly, he couldn’t help but weigh in.
— Lane Kiffin (@Lane_Kiffin) August 4, 2018
Kiffin was referencing an article that was written about him a year ago, in which several anonymous sources ripped him for the way he carries himself. Saban went on record in that story as saying Kiffin is a very smart coach who will eventually figure out that the profession is “about people.”
It’s obvious Kiffin and Saban did not get along during their relatively brief time together, and Kiffin loves reminding us of that.