When Lane Kiffin got fired by USC on an airplane tarmac in 2013, the world was united in scorn for him. He was a pouty-faced underachiever with a famous father, who had managed to fail up several consecutive times while never doing well at any of the stops along the way. It was an inglorious end that tickled the schadenfreude center in our dark hearts just right.
It was not the end, though. I think about this often, and still don’t understand how this happened, but Kiffin has revived his career by nesting underneath Nick Saban’s tiny, bat-like wing. And not only is it looking like he’ll get another head coaching job again, he could get a good one and I’d be happy to see it.
So, looking at the jobs available right now, let’s provide some order as to where we’d like to see Our Coachin’ Boy end up. The purpose here is not to rank these jobs by raw, unadjusted quality, but rather by the best fit that would allow Lane to flourish. Lots of places like points, but not everywhere can get with a coach doing touchdown arms before the ball has even left the quarterback's hand. There may not be a perfect fit out there this year, but we're going to do our due diligence.
- Fresno State. Lane probably has his sights set higher than this, but this would probably be the best bet at the moment. He’s an alum, it’s back on the West Coast, and if he gets the program off the ground, he could set himself up as something of a banana republic dictator in the sleepy side of the Mountain West. It’s not the most glamorous life, but it’s enough to make a man think.
- LSU. Would Lane move within the division and go head to head with the coach that gave him a second chance? If LSU strikes out at the top of their list, they may find themselves looking at coaching candidates not unlike Lane Kiffin, but this seems like a recipe for disaster. He’d walk into a job with huge expectations day one, and he’d be dealing with fans that already have Nick Saban poking at different spots in their brains every year. It’s very easy to see this being an insufferable, narrative-driven hell. Lane, I beg of you, don’t do this.
- FIU. In terms of degree of difficulty, following Ron Turner as head coach at the program is... not difficult. There are worse places to end up than South Florida so long as that’s your sort of thing, but FIU is a brutal job with little in the way of resources or program support. He’d get whiplash coming from a place like Alabama, and I think Lane values his health and wellness too much to do this.
- Purdue. Is Purdue the worst possible cultural fit for Kiffin imaginable? Almost every year of Kiffin’s coaching career has been spent in either Florida or California, with a brief but very memorable stops in Tennessee and now Alabama. West Lafayette might as well be on the moon, which hey, here’s a guy power-washing the Neil Armstrong statue on Purdue’s campus
Purdue is cheap, conservative, and utterly lacking in style. I’m sure the thought of a guy like Kiffin running their football program is enough to make some administrators’ put kleenex boxes on their feet like Howard Hughes. Oh yes, and the jars, let’s hang onto those.
I’m normally all for watching car wreck hires at schools I don’t care about, but this is too cruel to contemplate further.