Lane Kiffin finds a new way to show he hasn't grown up in latest early exit
Just look at Kiffin's history: He has never left a big-time job without some acrimony
Leave it to Lane Kiffin to get fired from a job he already quit.
If you're keeping score at home, this is how Kiffin has left his past four jobs:
- Called a liar by owner Al Davis when fired by the Oakland Raiders
- Set off riots at Tennessee when he left the Vols in the middle of the night after one year for his dream job at Southern California
- Got fired at the airport by USC one month into the 2013 season
- Essentially got fired by a legendary coach a week before the national title game
Make no mistake: Kiffin said and did things last week leading up to the Peach Bowl that looked like a coach who quit on a school that essentially fired him so he had to become Florida Atlantic's coach. Behind the scenes, some Alabama staff members said the Peach Bowl week was filled with Kiffin drama and the offense had poor practices in Atlanta.
As crazy as it is to change offensive coordinators one week before the national title game, you can't blame Nick Saban for pulling the plug while couching it as nicely as humanly possible. Kiffin hasn't grown up. There's a reason no Power Five school -- and not even Houston-- would turn over the keys of its program to Kiffin as a head coach.
Even putting aside what happened privately, just look at what Kiffin did publicly last week. He looked like a coach begging to be put out of his "misery" before the season was over.
• Kiffin bizarrely let Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated travel with him while house-hunting in Florida and made disparaging comments against Alabama.
Kiffin on feeling isolated in Tuscaloosa and not liking daily 7:30 a.m. staff meetings: "This will come across wrong. But it's like dog years. Three years is like 21." You think that might be viewed unfavorably by a coach who gave you a lifeline?
Kiffin on a personality profile showing that he's a conceptual thinker: "It means I'm imaginative, intuitive about ideas, visionary, enjoys the unusual and learns by experimenting. Does that explain me and everything that's not in the staff room at Alabama?"
Kiffin said Saban and a majority of Alabama assistants are labeled "structural" in that they like guidelines, they're cautious with new ideas and they're predictable. Sure, just pile on the coaches you're trying to win a national championship with right now.
Kiffin with a joke after initially asking if he should say it: "I used to say there's a constantly daily battle between who can take more of my money between [his ex-wife] Layla and Obama. I figured it out. I really don't make any money. I pay around 52 percent in taxes. Layla gets 34.5 percent in the divorce, and [agent Jimmy Sexton] gets 3 percent. I make [about] 9 percent, and I'm living in Tuscaloosa."
• Alabama's team buses left Kiffin behind again last week. This first happened after last season's national championship game. Then, it happened last week after media day at the Georgia Dome.
"Yep, got left again," Kiffin told ESPN.com.
Hmm. How did ESPN even learn of this story? It couldn't be that Kiffin told ESPN and wanted the attention, could it?
• At his Peach Bowl news conference, Kiffin said he couldn't recall any happy moments at Alabama and incredibly remarked that incoming offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will do a "much better" better job with Saban.
"The way I would describe it without details is [Sarkisian's] personality will work a little bit better than mine with coaches, and I'm not saying it was a bad thing at all," Kiffin said. "I would say Sark manages people better than I do at times."
Who in their right mind says that with two games remaining before a national championship? If I'm Florida Atlantic, I hear that quote and ask myself, "Hell, then why didn't we hire Sark instead of Kiffin?"
If Kiffin thinks Sarkisian is better with Saban then Saban might as well go with Sarkisian now.
When asked by ESPN's College GameDay what led to the split with Kiffin, Saban said: "I think the way we went about the last game [against Washington], whether it was the preparation or the practice and being able to focus on what we needed to do on our team relative to the distractions that occur when you're trying to hire a staff and recruit at another place. Lane did the best he could under difficult circumstances. We certainly wish him well. We both had a meeting on Sunday and again this morning that we thought it would be in the best interest and mutually agreed with both parties to move on."
That's a really nice way for Saban to say: "You're fired right now." It's incredible that Kiffin and Saban even lasted three years.
ESPN's Brett McMurphy reported afterward that Kiffin was also "late to meetings" and that his "public 'ass-chewing' comments contributed" to his early termination.
Tom Herman and Kirby Smart had no problem winning national championships the past two seasons with one foot out the door for jobs at Houston and Georgia. Kiffin managed to damage his reputation even more while on his way to FAU. Think of how self-destructive a person must be to get fired so close to trying to win back-to-back national titles.
This could be exactly what Alabama needs to refocus against Clemson. Quarterback Jalen Hurts' passing regressed in the semifinal, and Kiffin almost got too cute again and didn't give Bo Scarbrough enough carries.
Or Kiffin being out now may be too late to turn back the damage done in advance of the title game. Alabama preaches "The Process" so much that Saban must be beside himself that he allowed himself to get undermined by Kiffin's poor preparation in December.
Sarkisian, who was fired at USC in 2015 during a messy departure brought on by alcohol abuse, now takes over Alabama's play-calling immediately. Talk about a high-pressure debut for Sarkisian. Talk about a sudden change for Alabama players, who are now going to be receiving information from a new person with a national title at stake.
Meanwhile, the script doesn't change for Kiffin. Oh, there's always a new way he leaves, but the underlying issue doesn't change. Kiffin has a brilliant offensive mind but lacks interest or the ability to get out of his own way. Good luck getting into Kiffin's head to guess if he's sabotaging himself.
This much seems clear: At the rate Kiffin is going, he will depart FAU while tweeting on his JetSki.
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