Stuart McNair

Why Lane Kiffin leaving Alabama for LSU is below a lateral move

There has been speculation LSU can entice Alabama’s Lane Kiffin

When you read the speculation that Alabama Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin might go to work for Orgeron, did you also think, “Surely they mean Oregon.”? The rumor has surfaced that with LSU hiring Ed Orgeron the Tigers expect Orgeron to entice his former employer, Kiffin, to a lateral position, only working for Oregeron and LSU instead of Nick Saban and Alabama.

It’s safe to say that Kiffin, who was head coach at Tennessee (where he left of his own accord) and Southern Cal (where he didn’t) wants to be a head coach again. There’s no opening yet at Oregon, but almost everyone expects one, and Oregon is on the West Coast. Not Southern California, but West Coast, and Kiffin might go for that.

But LSU? Under Ed Orgeron, who worked for Kiffin at Tennessee and Southern Cal and who did not have a good career at Ole Miss when he coached there 2005-07?

When Kiffin was fired in the middle of the season (on the middle of the tarmac at the airport in the middle of the night), USC’s crack athletics director at the time, Pat Haden, elevated Orgeron to head coach.

Orgeron did pretty well, going 6-2 to finish the season, but before the bowl game, Haden hired Steve Sarkisian to head coach. (More about him in a moment, but suffice it to say that when Orgeron got passed over for Sarkisian, Orgeron quit.)

Kiffin has done a spectacular job in three years at Alabama, developing a new first-time quarterback in each year, all with great success.

Now, it may be that Alabama Coach Nick Saban is ready to push Kiffin out the door, or that Kiffin has heard enough from Saban on the sideline when things aren’t going well. Men at this level, though, seem to have a way of working through any personality problems as long as the process is working.

Kiffin going to LSU as offensive coordinator, though, would seem to be less than a lateral move. A more logical move that wouldn’t have occurred to LSU AD Joe Alleva would to have been to have hired Kiffin as head coach.

Is working under Orgeron more impressive than working under Saban?

Is LSU going to have a quarterback candidate equal to the one he would have at Alabama?

Is LSU somehow going to get off the Alabama schedule?

Rather than greasing the tracks to a head coaching job, Kiffin would be more likely to find himself in a train wreck in Baton Rouge.

The Sarkisian name comes up in two ways in this conversation.

One is that Orgeron would hire Sarkisian, not Kiffin, as offensive coordinator. Well, maybe, provided Orgeron and Sarkisian are over the Southern Cal spiff.

The other is that Saban would elevate Sarkisian from offensive analyst to offensive coordinator if Kiffin left (for any reason). There’s no way to know about that. It seems reasonable, even obvious, to those on the outside, but may be different to those – Saban and/or Sarkisian – on the inside.

Anything is possible in the business of big time college football. After all, didn’t everyone expect the worst when Saban brought Kiffin aboard?


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