With Alabama’s high levels of success on offense since Lane Kiffin arrived in Tuscaloosa, it has widely been seen as a matter of when, not if, the play-caller would be a head coach again. That line of thinking was bolstered by reports that frequently linked Kiffin to openings on the coaching carousel.

If those reports were coming out of Tuscaloosa, however, they might not have been accurate. USA Today’s Dan Wolken, citing anonymous sources, writes that Kiffin often exaggerated other schools’ interest in him:

Still, as Kiffin’s three-year contract with Alabama was on the verge of running out, it was clear he wouldn’t be back in Tuscaloosa. The relationship with Saban had run its course, and the only question was whether he would end up joining Ed Orgeron’s new staff at LSU or find a head coaching job.

But the offers never came and Kiffin grew more desperate to get another chance, according to multiple people within the coaching search industry, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity so they could be candid about their opinions of him.

Though Kiffin frequently exaggerated other programs’ interest in him to those inside the football facility at Alabama, he only came close to getting one job — Houston, which had him as a finalist but chose Major Applewhite instead — before landing at FAU.

Wolken paints a picture of Kiffin, 41, desperate to get back to head coaching after paying his dues at Alabama. While Florida Atlantic is not as prominent a gig as many expected of Kiffin’s return to head coaching, it does give him the opportunity to prove he can successfully represent a team and university without incident, something that concerned other schools’ administrators who considered him as a candidate but did not offer.