Kiffin says Alabama is an ‘absolute machine’, talks about the SEC changing as a league


The assistant coaching hire heard ‘round the college football world was Nick Saban hiring Lane Kiffin. Several didn’t understand it, and several still don’t understand it.

Related: Alabama hiring Lane Kiffin should not be surprising 

Kiffin has been a strong recruiter in the past, and he’s coordinated record-setting offenses with primo talent, like that which he inherits at Alabama. Sports Illustrated recently caught up with Kiffin, and he talked about consulting for Nick Saban and the Alabama program.

Kiffin said the Crimson Tide had an NFL vibe. “It’s an absolute machine from when you step into that building until you walk out at the end of the night,” he said. “Everything from recruiting to offense to defense. Everyone in there is just working.”

Kiffin told SI that he had a three-hour dinner with Saban the night he got into town, and the two spent 15 minutes every night going over their notes from the day’s practice. Kiffin also said Saban paid for his flight and his hotel rooms.

Kiffin also made some interesting remarks about the SEC itself and the offensive style of play. He was just in the SEC one season at Tennessee, and it was a totally different league in 2009. Kiffin said the SEC is changing as a league and going more towards a Pac-12 style of play with spread offenses, and he found that surprising.

“In watching a lot of film of their season, (the SEC is) starting to change a little bit toward the Pac-12, spread out with a running quarterback,” Kiffin said. “You’re seeing that with Texas A&M. The SEC is changing, which is surprising.”

Alabama is said to be going more up-tempo on offense, because Saban finds this style intriguing.

While the SEC offense was collectively different in 2013, the elite play of the quarterbacks is why defense took a back seat. Elite veteran quarterbacks saturated the league, but that should regulate next season, as the quarterback landscape changes dramatically.

Related: Where does Alabama’s 2009 championship team stack up?

But with coaches like Gus Malzahn, Kevin Sumlin and Hugh Freeze running high-flying offenses with elite athletes, it’s hard to argue against the league trending towards offense.

It speaks volumes to me that two elite defensive-minded coaches in Nick Saban and Will Muschamp are now going to up-tempo attacks. So, maybe the league will look more and more like the Pac-12 in the future after all.

Photo Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports



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  • If the SEC starts looking like the Pac-12 in football I will quit watching. SEC = Defense wins championships. :-)

    • First, I think I agree with you that the SEC doesn’t need to look like the Pac. i.e.. Missouri beat Arizona State at Missouri 2012 in a medium scoring game, with a couple defensive stands. Arizona State went on to win a bowl game and finish high in the Pac the next year. Their qb is John Elways pick to back up Manning. But second, i can’t agree that defense wins championships. SEC championship 2013 was a shoot-out with so many lead changes you couldn’t keep track, and the BCS championship was nearly as high scoring event. Both sides of the line contribute somewhat equally to victory over a long period of time but you can count on this every game, Defense will always be boring and Offense will always be exciting, and don’t tell me I don’t understand great defense. As a defensive end myself, I admire things like Missouri’s take-away stats and 4 take-aways for touchdowns, and sacks, but every sport needs design and execution more than destruction and denial. It’s ok to play on the side that is less exciting, having played on both sides I can even say it’s just as much fun. Defense doesn’t win championships, it wins boring low scoring games, that’s it.

    • Uh ill keep watching my gamecocks till they put me in the ground no matter what the “sec” looks like

  • I still dont get where Kiffin’s opinion is remotely relevent, I just cant find any significant sound body of work.

    • Kiffin’s basing his statement purely on the 2013 season, with defense taking a back seat. I still think the offense slows down in 2014 and defense will once again rule the conference. But it’s an interesting thought, the two coaches who dog-cussed hurry up spread attacks are now transitioning over to that style of offense, which the Pac-12 is widely known for.

  • Bring that style to the SEC and you will loose just like the Pac-12! Alabama has been a benchmark program and an idiot like Kiffin wants to change it, really? I’ll never forget a quote of Alshon Jeffries that he said Kiffin said on an official visit to Tenn. Kiffin told Alshon that if he commits to the Gamecocks, he would be pumping gas in 5 years! Alshon played in the last pro bowl while Kiffin was looking for another job after being fired from the real USC! Being a Gamecock fan, I am glad Bama hired Kiffin so he can screw things up there just like his proven track record thus far! After this hire, I can now see why Clemson restructured Dabo’s contract with a huge buyout!

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