Lane Kiffin to Miami? Never say never, but ... never
Coaching carousel season is truly magical. It’s filled with hope, flight tracking, rumors and above all else, fantasy.
Fantasy is notorious Miami booster — or fake booster — Nevin Shapiro telling Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel that Lane Kiffin is Miami’s top candidate. Keep in mind, Manny Diaz still has a job, though a change at athletic director has many speculating that his days could be numbered in the midst of a disappointing season in Coral Gables.
With all due respect to Shapiro, who is currently on house arrest while serving a 20-year prison sentence for a $930 million Ponzi scheme that also involved Miami getting a 2-year postseason ban from the NCAA, he’s dreaming.
Kiffin ditching Oxford for Miami seems about as likely as him kicking a field goal on 4th-and-inches.
No way. Not now. Not ever.
Oh, wait. What about this tweet?
SLATER SCOOP: Lane Kiffin would leave Ole Miss for the University of Miami if the Hurricanes head coaching job were to open, multiple sources close to Kiffin tell me.
— Andy Slater (@AndySlater) November 18, 2021
Yep. Still, no way. Not now. Not ever.
On the surface, one might question that. After all, Kiffin loves South Florida, which is why some Twitter experts said “why wouldn’t he want to leave Mississippi for Miami?!” Well, besides the fact that Oxford is lovely, Kiffin doesn’t have to take the Miami job in order to get his South Florida fix. He still owns a house in Boca Raton, where he led FAU to its 2 best seasons in school history during his 3 years there.
You want to bring swagger back to “The U?” The man formerly known as “Joey Freshwater” has swagger in spades. There’s no denying that it would revitalize a wounded program.
Consider that word — “wounded” — all the more reason why it’ll never happen.
In Year 2 at Ole Miss, Kiffin already showed that he could take a wounded program and get them into the national spotlight. And not like the national spotlight for a borderline Top 25 team in September who gets a ton of buzz because a top-5 team comes to town. Kiffin is coming off a weekend in which his program hosted College GameDay for the first time in 7 years, and it did so because it was playing in a mid-November game involving top-15 teams.
By this time next week, Lane Kiffin may have punched Ole Miss’ ticket to a New Year’s 6 bowl. Another extension offer is coming, albeit in complicated fashion.
State law in Mississippi dictates that public employees cannot have contracts lasting longer than 4 years. (Obviously, coaches can be extended to restart a 4-year cycle; in January, Kiffin signed an extension through 2024.) Hence, why there’s intrigue about Kiffin getting poached with an over-the-top offer from a program like LSU. Kiffin already makes $5 million annually, and it’s safe to say that number will increase at season’s end. Keep that in mind.
Go back to September. Diaz was on the hot seat, and rumors began that former Miami player and current Oregon coach Mario Cristobal would be an enticing candidate, but the money would be a significant hurdle. This is an excerpt from the Miami Herald on why poaching Cristobal probably wasn’t feasible:
“If UM offered (Cristobal) $7 million annually to try to entice him to leave Oregon in a five-year deal, that’s $35 million,” The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson said. “It also would cost $9 million to buy out Cristobal’s contract before January of 2022, or $6.5 million afterward. That and buying out the final two years and $8 million of Diaz’s contract in December would cost more than $50 million.”
“We don’t have that kind of money,” one trustee told Jackson.
What does that mean for Kiffin’s case? Miami isn’t LSU. As in, it’s not a program who is going to shell out a $17 million buyout to a coach 2 years removed from a national championship and then turn around and reportedly offer an 8-figure annual salary. And yes, I say that even though Miami is reportedly set to increase athletic spending by “$20-30 million annually,” which is a convenient thing for a program to say before recruiting season and potentially hiring a new coach.
Again, even if the financial support was fully there, that’s still just a fantasy world in which money was the only factor for Kiffin. It isn’t. Remember when Kiffin left his job as Alabama’s offensive coordinator to take the head job at FAU? He took a pay cut to do that.
So even if this fantasy world existed where Miami got enough non-Ponzi scheme-funded “booster” support to make a realistic play for Kiffin, why would he leave? This isn’t 2001 anymore. Ole Miss is a better job than Miami. Period. The fan support, the facilities, the atmosphere … all of it.
This is no longer a time in which Miami has I-4 roped off with total control in the southern part of the biggest recruiting hotbed in the sport. What about the history and tradition? Today’s recruits weren’t even alive when Miami played in its last national championship in 2002. In fact, let’s just compare the program success since these 2022 recruits were born in 2004:
And remember, that’s being generous to Miami by including the entire lifetime of a 2022 recruit. What about if we just narrowed that to the Playoff era?
And keep in mind that Ole Miss is 2 wins away from a 10-win season, it’s about to earn another Top 25 finish and it could very easily earn a top-10 finish after a trip to a New Year’s 6 bowl. Meanwhile, Miami is just fighting to get to a bowl game.
Leaving Ole Miss for Miami is a lateral move at best and a slight step down at worst.
Kiffin was built for the SEC. He wasn’t built to scheme up perfect looks only to throw play sheets into the sky in front of half-empty stadiums. If he wanted to head off to a situation with a favorable path to the Playoff, why do you think he willingly signed up to play in the toughest division in the sport 2 years ago? Lord knows Kiffin had other opportunities outside of Ole Miss.
I say all of this knowing that very few people are actually predicting that Kiffin will head back to South Florida. Besides, if Kiffin really wanted that job, don’t you think he would’ve made his pitch 3 years ago when he was at FAU?
The timing, the prestige, the everything … it just doesn’t make any sense.
Kiffin is living his best life in Oxford, where he’s got an administration that’s behind him in every way. If he leaves that, it’ll be to win championships at a place with a stocked cupboard like LSU. And maybe even that is a pipe dream for the Bayou Bengals.
But Miami? Never, Nevin.