Nick Saban has addressed whether Lane Kiffin will be with the Alabama Crimson Tide for the team’s College Football Playoff run, stating that they’ll, “do what’s best for Lane.”
All four College Football Playoff coaches held court at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta on Thursday evening to discuss, among other things, the upcoming semifinal matchups between their respective teams. One of the topics broached by Alabama head coach Nick Saban was whether Lane Kiffin would be with his team when they face the Washington Huskies on January 31 in the Peach Bowl.
Ever the politician, Saban toed the middle line while opting not to delve into hypotheticals.
“We’ll make a decision when we have something to make a decision about. We’ll do what’s best for Lane.”
Kiffin has been a major point of discussion since the final horn of the SEC Championship Game. He’s been tied to seemingly every job under the sun – from head coaching availabilities at USF and Houston, to the offensive coordinator role at LSU under good friend Ed Orgeron. Early Thursday, it was even reported that a deal between Houston and Kiffin appeared imminent, contingent on the university’s president okaying the hire.
“As far as I know, I don’t think anything’s been decided, officially,” Saban said during the roundtable.
That Kiffin has several suitors is no surprise. His offense set Alabama records in 2014 under perenial backup Blake Sims; last season he molded Jake Coker into a championship-winning quarterback and Derrick Henry into a Heisman-winning running back; and this year his squad, run by true freshman Jalen Hurts, averaged 40.5 points and 471 yards per game.
That Kiffin would leave Alabama prior to the CFP is more surprising, and would go against a precedent set by Tom Herman and former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. Herman was offered the Houston position prior to Ohio State’s championship run two seasons ago, as was Smart with Georgia prior to Bama’s title run last year. Both stayed in their coordinator roles, opting to leave only after the season’s conclusion.
Following the SEC title game, Kiffin said that he’d stay with the Tide as long as “they” let him. There was no clarification if the “they” referred to the Crimson Tide or his next employer.
Saban’s verbiage on the subject is also interesting, stating that the Alabama program will do what’s best for Kiffin. While it’s all but clear that Kiffin will not return next year, the new question becomes is what’s best for Kiffin also the best option for Alabama?