Former USC football head coach, now turned successful Alabama offensive coordinator, Lane Kiffin spoke to the national media for the first time all season leading up to the College Football Playoff national semifinal in New Orleans.
Beneath the major headline news from Lane Kiffin saying that he "would have done it for free," working at Alabama this season has been quite an upswing following a tragic fall as the USC Trojans' head coach last October.
Kiffin landed the Alabama job with close friend Nick Saban and developed fifth-year senior quarterback Blake Sims into an effective dual-threat option. He also helped transform the Crimson Tide's offense from ground and pound of years past into a more high-paced offense moving the ball up and down the field.
In the midst of a gigantic swarm of national reporters, respected beat writer Gary Klein of the LA Times asked Kiffin about his relationship with USC, especially as the Trojans just finished their first full season under a new coaching regime. Here is the full transcription of what Kiffin had to say to the national media.
"We don't have a lot of time to follow much. I do once in awhile catch some stuff, like we got out of our meeting and I caught, it must have been the fourth quarter [of the Holiday Bowl] or something like that.
"I talked to Sark the night before the game down there. I actually talked to Pat a couple times too over the last month or so. So rooting for them.
"Nelson [Agholor] sent me a great text last night, a long text. Anytime that you go through what we went through and you recruit kids as the head coach to a program, you want to see those guys have success. It's not, ‘Well if they lose then they're going to write that it was because of me, whatever, any of that.' It's none of that.
"To see them have success. To see Leonard Williams do what he's done. Talking to Sark, there were four games the kid probably, a lot of kids wouldn't even have played, I guess, because he was so banged up. And for him to just fight through that and play the way that he did, those are really cool stories because you know, had you not been there, some of those kids don't come.
"Not the local kids. Marqise Lee maybe would have come there no matter what. But like Nelson and Leonard, for my dad [former defensive coordinator Monte] to go down there, know the people, the connections down there for those kids to trust in us, they were going to come across the country to play at SC. And then see how well it's worked out especially for those two guys - someone said Leonard may be the second pick in the draft or something - that's a really neat story."
For a coach that has been known to essentially "fall up" from the youngest head coach in NFL history with the Oakland Raiders to his short stint at the University of Tennessee and his most recent head coaching job at the University of Southern California, Kiffin has had a laundry list of highly sought after jobs before the age of 40.
What Lane Kiffin does posses, though, is a great coaching mind. Maybe not as the captain of a ship, or the vocal leader of an entire program, but as a wise coordinator that can maximize his talent on the field. Whether that be through Robert Woods or Marqise Lee during his days at USC, to even now with Heisman Trophy finalist Amari Cooper at Alabama, Kiffin knows how to feed his best playmakers.
The questions will continue to arise about how he managed USC through sanctions, but angry fans can't disagree with his ability to recruit talent and feature them on the offensive side of the ball. It should be fun to see how both Kiffin and Sarkisian fare over the next few years, but now we can focus on the epic National Semifinal games that will be taking place on New Years Day at both the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl.