Lane Kiffin speaks glowingly about Nick Saban’s ‘rehab’ camp
Lane Kiffin and Nick Saban did not always see eye-to-eye during their time coaching together, but Kiffin has no problem admitting that his stint with Alabama revived his career.
Kiffin spoke with CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd for a three-part series that explores Saban’s coaching “rehab” program, as Kiffin labeled it. Kiffin, who is now the head coach at Ole Miss, says he could not have asked for a better job than the one he had at Alabama.
“It was perfect,” Kiffin said. “There wouldn’t have been a better job in the NFL. I say [it’s] the ‘rehab’ stamp. You go there, spend some time, all the sudden you can coach again.”
Kiffin was one of five former college head coaches to work under Saban in the last eight years. He, like Steve Sarkisian, got a third shot at being a head coach after spending time on Saban’s staff.
After being fired by USC in 2013, Kiffin was viewed by many as untouchable. He was seen as a young coach with a massive ego, but Saban saw an opportunity. He knew his Alabama offense needed revamping.
“You gotta want to change, and (Saban) did,” Kiffin said. “It’s not like I came in there and said, ‘You should change.’ He said, ‘I want to change.’ It was his idea.”
Things didn’t end all that well between Kiffin and Saban. Their relationship appeared to run its course, and Kiffin was ousted amid reports of “drama” prior to the 2017 national championship game. Kiffin has since trolled Saban on numerous occasions, but he has also shown respect for his former boss.
It’s never easy for a former head coach to take orders, but Saban has obviously created a great balance for his understudies. Butch Jones, who landed another head coaching job after working under Saban, also had high praise for the seven-time national champion.
Bill O’Brien is Saban’s latest “rehab” project, having gone from NFL head coach and general manager to college assistant coach. Given the track record of coaches reviving their careers at Alabama, you can understand why the system keeps churning.