Alabama AD says his first reaction of Lane Kiffin ‘wasn’t very positive’


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.

RELATED: Saban hiring Kiffin shouldn’t be surprising

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.

Photo Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports



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  • While personally I am more interested in Pruitt hire at UGA this could be the most interesting hire in the SEC this off-season.

  • The question fans should be asking is this: ? is a Lane Kiffin offense really a modern solution in the SEC…… because a lot of SEC programs think they have modern solutions but they don’t. Examples of those who don’t: AL, LSU, OM, KY, AR, FL, SC, TN (had one before jones), Vandy. I didn’t see a SEC transferrable offense when he was out west. I saw one that might of worked in the SEC 3 years ago.

      • I think what Wolf is saying is that the previously mentioned schools don’t have a modern offesnse. They use outdated schemes and some are trying to upgrade (Alabama) by hiring Lane Kiffin, but his offensive scheme is already outdated by 3 years. The HUNH offenses evolve every year, and to be one year behind can be a misstep that could lead to several losses against the right opponent.

        • You can win with any kind of offense if the players are good enough. You can steal a few wins for a few years with an offensive scheme that no one is familiar with, but defensive coordinators aren’t dumb, and they figure out ways to stop gimmick offenses after a year or two. Then, it’s all back to the whether or not the players are good enough. The type of offense Lane Kiffin teaches has worked in the NFL and in college for 40 years, and it will work extremely well at Alabama, because of the enormous talent Kiffin will have to work with there.

        • Personally, I think the both of you are off-base. Saban might be a defensive-minded coach, but do you really think he’ll loosen the reigns enough to let Kiffin do whatever he likes? Doubtful.

          It’ll still be an Alabama offense, and I’m fairly sure Kiffin’s input will be subtle rather than a massive overhaul. More tight end use, more RB screens and draws, and maybe a little quicker pace is about all I expect, and the only changes to the run game I’ve seen so far is a little bit more use of a traditional fullback.

        • John, “you can make any kind of offense work”. Work for what? to have a winning record, or to win a division, or to win the SEC, or to win the National Championship. What is the expectation in AL? You are right to say that great player can execute any scheme but when great player face great players something else is going to make the difference. That something else can be unfamiliar attacks. Last year Malzahn brought back elements of an old running attack that had some new elements and excellent execution at times. They couldn’t shut opponents out but they could put modern bigger point totals on the scoreboard. Thanks for your idea John I hope this clarifies what I mean and I certainly agree with your idea that execution is at least as important as scheme.

  • Fail or Succeed…you can bet that he will get way too much credit. Do they have a leader at the QB position? I heard FSU kid was figured to be a shoe in but Sims was holding his own in the spring. Not that it matters as Derrick Henry is gonna be the STUD.

  • How fast will Saban turn on Lame Kiffin if things don’t go right with the offense?