Debate: Where will Lane Kiffin be in 2020?
Lane Kiffin signed a 5-year contract with Florida Atlantic University.
Does anybody really expect the Mad Traveler to still be the Owls’ head coach in 2022?
We certainly don’t — and a modest buyout clause that starts at $2.5 million and drops $500,000 every year certainly won’t slow him down. When he bolts and where he goes next is something we’ve been debating all week.
Answer: Lane Kiffin will be a college football offensive coordinator in 2020.
The FAU experiment will take too long to transpire. He’s rebuilding the entire program. Sure, he’ll recruit some offensive talent away from Miami, but he’ll also have to recruit some defensive talent.
Kiffin will tire out of going 5-7 or worse for the next three years and another big-time program will come calling to lead the offense. He won’t be able to turn them down.
I just don’t think Kiffin is set out to lead a big-time program. That’s not taking a shot at him; he’s very good at what he does. But he’ll have to turn FAU around in a hurry in order to land a bigger job quickly.
— Jon Cooper, director of operations
Answer: How long will Lane Kiffin be at FAU? After successfully mentoring one unproven quarterback after another the last three years to near unprecedented success for Alabama, if FAU was the best job Kiffin could get, I don’t see how he manages to raise his profile any time soon in Boca Raton.
As someone who religiously covers college football 365 days a year, I couldn’t tell you the name of the coach Kiffin is replacing without the help of Google or what league FAU even plays in. I can honestly say the only time I can recall seeing FAU play was during a 2015 trip to Gainesville and that game was only memorable because of how poorly the Gators played that afternoon — Florida won 20-14 in overtime.
Barring some scandalous activity, Kiffin will be marooned at FAU for the foreseeable future. I’ll bet we don’t hear from him again for at least three seasons.
— Michael Wayne Bratton, news editor
Answer: The only thing I know for certain is that Lane Kiffin won’t be at FAU in 2020. Not a chance.
He’ll be with the Owls for one season, two at the most. Kiffin wanted to be a head coach once again, yet a 3-9 school from Conference USA with zero tradition was his only option.
More than likely, he’ll stir it up a bit in Boca and maybe even win some games here and there, but Florida Atlantic will reap no long-term reward because Kiffin will bail at the first opportunity. He’ll be there no longer than the time it takes to prove he can handle the gig.
Assuming things go well, by 2019 at the latest Kiffin will be head coach at a middle-of-the-pack Power 5 program like, say, Cal. If they don’t, he’ll return to coordinating a contender.
Kiffin could’ve gone straight from A to C and taken the OC job at LSU under Ed Orgeron.
— John Crist, senior writer
Answer: I hate to be a cynic, but I will be with Kiffin.
In 2020, he’ll replace Matt Canada as offensive coordinator at LSU. Canada will have succeeded in moving LSU’s offense into the 21st century and, as a reward, he moved from LSU to be a head coach at a better Group of Five program than Florida Atlantic. This will have come after Kiffin was rumored to have accepted the same job Canada got, but talks stalled over the buyout.
This will have been the 20th job Kiffin will have been rumored to be connected to in his three years at Florida Atlantic, where he has a 17-21 record in three seasons, including two Boca Raton bowl losses where he reportedly interviewed for other openings at halftime.
By the time his buddy Ed Orgeron comes calling again, FAU not only waives the buyout, but offers to pay LSU a buyout if it would take Kiffin off its hands. LSU accepts and uses the money to make Dave Aranda the first $3 million assistant in college football.
Hey, it could happen …
— Gary Laney, LSU beat reporter
Answer: He’ll lead little ol’ FAU to a bowl game next year — yes, he’s that good of an offensive magician and his schemes will overwhelm C-USA personnel.
South Florida has more talented skill players in its 90-mile radius than any similarly sized spot on Earth. He’ll grab some of those 3-stars who were going to Rutgers and Duke and other average Power 5 schools. And he’ll average 45 points a game. For two years, anyway.
Unlike the others, I expect him to return to the NFL in 2019, this time as a highly paid offensive coordinator. That’s where he belongs. He already had the best OC job in college football. No other college coordinator job makes sense.
Had he landed the Houston or South Florida job, he could have stayed there 4-5 years, long enough to establish himself as the no-brainer replacement when Nick Saban retires from Alabama.
He won’t be at FAU nearly long enough to do that. Other SEC jobs will open — potentially Texas A&M if Kevin Sumlin has yet another November nosedive — but Kiffin has proven, repeatedly, he’s at his peak when he’s only worrying about the offense.
He’ll always have opportunities, but his best opportunity to succeed long-term will be as an NFL OC, and that’s where I expect him to be in 2019.
Unless, of course, the Jacksonville Jaguars call him at 8:48 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2017, five minutes after firing head coach Gus Bradley.
Either way, he’ll be renting in Boca Raton, not buying.
— Chris Wright, executive editor
Chris Wright is Executive Editor at SaturdayDownSouth.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @FilmRoomEditor.