Alabama athletic director’s reaction to Nick Saban possibly hiring Lane Kiffin as his new offensive coordinator was like many others: not very positive.
Bill Battle did an interesting Q&A with the Anniston Star in which he answered a wide range of questions, but he touched on Kiffin. Although his initial reaction wasn’t very positive, after meeting him – and with some nudging by Saban – Battle later became impressed.
My first reaction, because I didn’t know Lane, wasn’t very positive. I talked to Coach Saban about it. He asked me if I had ever met him and I said no. He said, “Why don’t you meet him?” He had him in for a visit, I spent about an hour with him and I was very impressed. I followed up and talked to several different people. I called (athletics director) Pat Haden at Southern California. I talked to David Blackbird, who’s the AD at UT-Chattanooga. David was the compliance officer for football at Tennessee when Lane was there. They both told me that they thought he would be a great fit here, and I got really comfortable with it. Now that I’ve spent a fair amount of time with Lane, I’m really impressed. Our players are impressed and I think our coaches are impressed with how he’s gone about things. I think he’ll be very successful here.
Several have questioned Saban as to why he would make a ‘risky’ hire in Kiffin, but the truth is that Kiffin won’t be in charge of anything he’s not good at. Kiffin will coach the offense and the quarterbacks; he won’t be the head coach, and he won’t have to deal with the media.
Since Kiffin will be insulated in Alabama’s program, it may actually give him an opportunity to rebuild his reputation and stay out of the limelight, something he desperately needs, assuming he has head coaching aspirations again.
The Saban-Kiffin coaching marriage will be one of the SEC’s hottest storylines in 2014.
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