Oct. 15, 2016
Letting Lane Kiffin Walk Was The BEST Thing For Alabama
So in a surprise move by many, Lane Kiffin is out at Alabama..........a week before the National Championship Game against Clemson. Saban let out a statement:
"This wasn't an easy decision and we appreciate the way Lane handled this in terms of doing what is best for our team. At the end of the day, both of us wanted to put our players in the best position to be successful. Obviously, we are in a unique situation here where we have our next offensive coordinator already on staff. We have full confidence that Sark will step in right away and make this a smooth transition."
My take is Saban said "you're either 100% on board with this or don't let the door hit you because I am trying to get another national championship here." And of course, Kiffin took the door. Just my take.
When Kiffin came on board at Alabama, many wondered if he and Saban could co-exist. Saban is the no-nonsense kind of coach that doesn't tolerate much. On the flip side, from what we saw at USC and Tennessee, Kiffin was more of a one-man show who loved saying and doing things to get people talking. So many thought Kiffin at Alabama would doom the Tide. That said, in three seasons, Alabama had a strong offense, one of the strongest offenses the Tide ever had in their history. It netted Alabama 3 SEC championships and at least one national championship.
However, any time Saban felt Alabama's offense was stagnant, Kiffin was the guy who got the brunt of his chewings (as Saban said a few times). You knew after the final year of Kiffin's contract, he would not return to Alabama, whether that would be the next coach at Houston, USF, or the offensive coordinator at LSU. It just seemed like as the season progressed this year, the relationship looked strained, even when the Tide was rolling and it was a matter of when, not if. Hence, why Saban brought in Steve Sarkisian to replace Kiffin...........back in September if Kiffin left.
Then, the Washington game happened. Anybody who was an Alabama fan (including myself) knew the Tide didn't look right on offense. Actually, they looked downright putrid. Had it not been for Bo Scarbrough, that game is far closer than any Alabama fan wanted. Again, credit Washington for being more prepared on defense, but you could tell Kiffin's preparation on Washington wasn't up to snuff and a lot of the calls he made in that game were mind-boggling bad. At halftime when they interviewed Saban, he seemed ticked on the offensive preparation (while he pretty much praised his defense) and it didn't go away after the game. So everybody who watches Alabama football knew something wasn't right with the offense, Kiffin, Hurts, etc. And maybe Kiffin's mind was at Boca Raton instead of the Georgia Dome, which was my thought.
So when my buddy posted on my Facebook wall about Kiffin was gone, my first reaction was a surprise, but after thinking of the Washington game, and then remembering Kirby Smart had a similar issue last year where his focus before the Clemson game was not there because of his being hired at Georgia, I am less & less surprised. It is probably a reason why Smart's relationship with Saban and even a few of his players (Marlon Humphrey) probably have gone strained from how Smart handled things between Alabama and Georgia. And it is probably why Alabama allowed 40 points to Watson & Clemson (though I still think Smart was more of an overrated coordinator than a great one with Alabama's defenses, especially against the pass under Smart continued to collapse since 2011 while the Tide ranked 14th in the nation against the pass-up from 30 in 2015), but to each his own.
The way it sounded like was Saban & Kiffin talked, (I'm betting it was more of another chewing by Saban, but whatever), and I think Kiffin was indifferent to what Alabama did in the game so I think Saban made the RIGHT decision in letting Kiffin walk. Because what would have happened? Saban would lose his mind on Kiffin and Kiffin would have gone "whatever!" and left anyway. Some fans are going "uh oh for Bama! Not what they need a week before!" Had Kiffin stayed, I honestly think Clemson would win the game outright given how Alabama played against Washington. Sarkisian knows the offense, knows the system and I think is probably a better fit for Saban.
Bottom line is Nick Saban is a guy who wants total focus and wants the elimination of any distractions to his teams. "Firing" Kiffin was really the best decision made. Yes, it is a distraction now for the media, but it is less of one with Kiffin and his antics being gone. And who is to argue with a guy who has 4 titles in 6 years?
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat