Lane Kiffin is always interesting. He’s a polarizing figure who has done some excellent work, especially in his three seasons at Alabama while breaking in three first-time starting QBs. Kiffin had his Peach Bowl press conference Wednesday and, of course, it wasn’t boring.
The most interesting things that the Tide’s offensive coordinator (and new FAU head coach) said:
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
On the happiest Nick Saban had been with his offense and play calls
"I don't recall a happy moment. I just recall the ass chewings. I won't take that part of the process with me, though.”
Getty ImagesWesley Hitt
On his evaluation of Jalen Hurts before the true freshman became the Tide’s starting QB
“I went and worked him out — went and watched him work out in the spring before he came, before he announced, and I came away from watching that practice workout and I said, 'Coach, I think this guy's a first-round draft pick.' Now, he's got to make the plays in the games. But off of the workout, you know, my evaluation was he can be a first-round draft pick.
“And I think what we've done now with changing the offense to where we were, say, at USC or maybe when we first got here at Alabama or the way they were at Alabama before, I don't think he could have played right away because true freshmen can't, normally, because the pro-style system is so much more complicated.”
Getty ImagesKevin C. Cox
On how important it was to become a head coach
"It wasn’t. This was, I know -- you know, when I was down at the press conference, a lot of the questions were about that. It seemed like, OK, he just took a head job because he wanted to be a head coach or it wasn't working at Alabama.
“I answered that question earlier, too. I don't know where that comes from, out there that the Alabama thing was over and the Saban-Kiffin marriage kind of ran its course. It was three years. Coach has been great to me. He's never been anything but excited about coming back next year prior to this job. And we did have a great three years. Three straight SEC championships and potential of two national championships and a Heisman Trophy winner. So it was really great. And it really was about the job. It was about that specific job.
“When I went in there and I met with the president, the athletic director and the three main decision-makers, I went into the interview saying, ‘OK, you know, you always want to go through the interview process with different places because you learn and you never know. Those people may be somewhere else five years from now, so you may impress them in the interview, even if it's a job you're not going to take.’ I came into that room not really knowing, and I came out of that room saying, ‘OK, I really want that job.’ They're committed to doing things different than they've done before and they really want to win championships and do everything that it takes to do that.”
USA TODAY SportsJasen Vinlove
On hiring Baylor assistant Kendal Briles after the sexual assault scandal at Baylor
“[FAU] did a lot. They talked to a lot of people at the school there about the situation there. They talked to people in compliance as well to make sure. Everybody from that standpoint signed off on Kendal, and this was an ongoing investigation that had nothing to do with him.
"I think the Kendal situation would be unfair. I don’t think because you’re on the staff and there’s an issue going on that no one has said you’re directly involved in, that it should follow you. I think that’s a different situation.”
USA TODAY SportsJerome Miron
On Steve Sarkisian becoming the Tide's new offensive coordinator
"I think it's going to be a really easy transition. Part of in my head was the process of talking to him in the summer into taking the job was I may not be here the next year, you know. And so I thought it was important he could help me for a year, and then if there was something where I wasn't here, be an easy transition for Coach to have somebody versus hiring Sark, not really knowing him and him not being around the system. That would have been a harder transition. I think it's been valuable.
“He'll do a great job with Coach Saban. Coach talked to me about it, and I think in some ways, he'll do a much better job than I do with Coach.
“The best way I would describe that is his personality will work a little better with Coach Saban than mine does. I would say that Sark manages people better than I do at times.”
Getty ImagesStephen Dunn
On Saban changing his offensive philosophy
“One of the things that people don’t realize about Coach is his ability to change. He’s not stubborn. You’ve seen other coaches over time be stubborn and not evolve their offense or their defense, and it costs them their jobs sometimes.
“I don’t think we would’ve been sitting here having won three straight SEC championships if he wouldn’t have changed. He knew that that this is the way college football is going, whether it’s tempo or Run Pass Option and offensive linemen going downfield. Well, he can’t stand that because he knows that hurts the defense, but he realizes that it does hurt the defense so he wants to bring it into his own offense.
“There’s too much written about that I changed him on this whole offensive thing. That I came here and there were these wars, and that I changed him. It really wasn’t like that. It was really he wanted to change. He said it to me, ‘This is the direction of college football. I don’t like it. But it’s what’s working.’ And he was coming off two straight losses when he made that decision. That just shows he’s always looking for how to find a better way to do things. It’s like how in the offseason he’s always flying us different places to go learn things or bringing in coaches. That’s unusual cause someone like him, you’d think ‘why does he wanna learn from someone else,’ but he’s the best coach in college football, but that’s why he continues to be the best coach."