Senior Columnist

Saban explains hiring of Lane Kiffin

Nick Saban is 'excited to have Lane' on staff. (USATSI)
Nick Saban is 'excited to have Lane' on staff at Alabama. (USATSI)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Nick Saban briefly explained the hiring process of Lane Kiffin on Monday at the American Football Coaches Association Convention.

“I've known him for a long time,” Saban said after speaking to approximately 4,000 coaches during an hour-long session. “I always thought he was a really good coach. All his issues come from something we're not asking him to do.”

That would be, it is assumed, not running a program as a head coach. As a play caller, Kiffin will be back to his USC roots where he first made a name for himself (beyond that of his father Monte) as an offensive coordinator for the Trojans (2005-06).

The comments are believed to be the first Saban has made publicly to media. The original announcement was made last week in a press release.

"We are excited to have Lane join our staff," Saban said in the release. "He is an outstanding and creative offensive coach who has great experience both at the college and NFL level. He has a very good understanding of the game and I have always been impressed with what I saw in the games he called. He coaches with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm, and also does an excellent job as a teacher. Lane will be an outstanding addition to our coaching staff and we look forward to him and his family joining us at the University of Alabama."

Saban charmed the coaches at the Indiana Convention Center telling them his four years under Bill Belichick “were the worst of my life.” He also said an early 80s win against Michigan while an assistant at Ohio State was “the greatest win I was ever associated with.”

The coaches chuckled when Saban told them, “I don't know if you've been to LSU but you can smell the bourbon on the 50-yard line.”

Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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