Not many combinations in the college football world are better than Lane Kiffin in front of a hot mic, and he had one on Thursday morning.
Speaking with Jordy Culotta and T-Bob Hebert on Off The Bench on ESPN 104.5 in Baton Rouge, the second-year coach of the FAU Owls spoke highly of Alabama coach Nick Saban -- his boss from 2014-16 when Kiffin was the offensive coordinator of the Crimson Tide.
What stood out most was how long he expects the 66-year-old Saban to hang around the game before hanging up the headset.
"It could be a record-type thing," Kiffin said. "This could be another 10 years. This is going to sound strange ... but kind of like Tom Brady as a player, he's taken care of himself. Coach is extremely healthy, takes care of himself. People are supposed to kind of lose things as they get up there in age, but he doesn't at all. He doesn't slow down. He drives himself. He works harder than anyone else in the building, whether it is the 25-year-old or not."
Saban agreed to a contract extension through the 2024 season in 2017, which would make him 72 years old at that time. Any thought of Saban riding off into the sunset is premature, according to Kiffin.
"Him thinking of stopping is only because it is by choice. If he wanted to," Kiffin said. "He isn't going to slow down. He's going to continue to be the best recruiter in the country. That's the No. 1 reason he went. Every Saturday they play, they have better players than the other sideline, and it's usually not even close. They had better players, by far, even in the national championship."
That team that he played in the national championship, though, might have something to say about how successful Saban is if he does, in fact, stick around for another decade. At least, according to Kiffin.
Georgia, in its second year under Kirby Smart, won the SEC title in 2017 over Auburn, and put Alabama in a 13-0 hole in the College Football Playoff National Championship before letting it slip away in a 26-23 overtime thriller. Smart was an assistant under Saban for Saban's first nine years with Alabama, as well as one year each with LSU (2004) and the Miami Dolphins (2006).
That familiarity, coupled with the success he displayed in 2017 and recruiting base Smart has in Georgia, might present Saban's toughest long-term challenge to date.
"That's hard to do when you've got someone who's been with you for 10 years, knows every single thing you do and every single reason why your program is successful," Kiffin said. "For me, I went to Alabama for three years and it was already rolling. Kirby was there from Day 1 to see how coach [Saban] built it. That's hard. The guy's been there for 10 years and now he goes inside the conference and you've got to compete against him. But it isn't the first time. [Saban] has been doing that a lot."
Of course, Kiffin can't resist taking a few jabs when on the radio in SEC country. When asked about LSU's lack of success on offense in 2017 under former coordinator Matt Canada, he took a light-hearted jab at how much of an impact he made when Tigers coach Ed Orgeron sent his offensive staff to Boca Raton last offseason to hang out with the Owls.
"Coach O sent their offensive staff here. Obviously, I didn't help very much," Kiffin joked.