The internet was ablaze on Monday afternoon with the announcement that Lane Kiffin had been hired as Florida Atlantic's new head coach. Alabama's offensive coordinator and college football's resident bad boy was back in the head coaching ranks.
It is fantastic news, not only from a football perspective, but also from a "You never know what the heck he's going to say" aspect. Alabama's assistants aren't allowed to speak to the media during the season, meaning Kiffin's opening press conference at FAU on Tuesday was the first time we had really heard from him in nearly three years.
As usual, he was full of plenty of great quotes. Here are the 13 best ones.
Kiffin sounding like Nick Saban 2.0
“The Process starts here today at Florida Atlantic. I’ve been very fortunate to be around, [for] three years a place that is all about the process and learning that. We will bring that here to Florida Atlantic.”
Kiffin made reference to 'The Process' (a term Saban has made famous over the last few years) in his opening remarks, and it seemed like the Alabama head coach really had rubbed off on him.
Then, Kiffin got rolling. And once he started, he couldn't really stop...
Kiffin on how he first got into coaching
"I told these guys a story the other day. ‘How did you get into coaching,’ they asked. Well, I was playing quarterback at Fresno State. Jeff Tedford was my coordinator. I was going into my senior year, I was the second quarterback behind Billy Volek. And then David Carr walked on campus as a true freshman, becoming the first pick in the draft and so we went and threw for 10 minutes, and I decided I was going to start coaching because it was obvious I was going to third team. So I guess I should thank David Carr for that."
Now that's the Kiffin we all know and love!
Kiffin on the role former Colorado State head coach Sonny Lubick played on his career
"Sonny Lubick at Colorado State gave me my first opportunity [as a full-time coach] to work there. And I do think what Sonny was doing at Colorado State, something that’s familiar here. I remember very clear, and I remember the Miami job coming open in that same timeframe I was with Coach Lubick. And I remember him not taking it. And I was young so I was like ‘What is he thinking’ at the time. So I didn’t learn from that and screwed up by jumping around all over the place."
Yup, here we go. Kiffin is officially about to go off the rails. Although to his credit, he actually used this quote to set up a larger point about how he hopes to one day set up something special at FAU, like Lubick had at Colorado State. Of course, it didn't necessarily come out that way.
On why he's grateful for Nick Saban
"I’m very grateful to Coach Saban. My phone was not ringing very much at the time, after USC. And that was a very humbling experience."
There's no joke to make here, and if anything it is kind of incredible to see how far Kiffin has come in such a short amount of time. It's hard to believe that it was just less than four years ago that Kiffin was fired by USC, on an airport tarmac, and is now once again a head coach.
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Of course make no mistake: While he appreciates Saban, he still fears him
"I’d like to thank Coach Saban. I’ll be back for the 7:30 a.m. staff meeting tomorrow. I’m excited to be back there, coach. I’ll be there."
Kiffin on what he learned from his previous head coaching stops
“How much time do we have?”
I don't care if Kiffin wins 11 games in his first year at FAU. Nothing will top that question-and-answer, back-and-forth in the opening press conference.
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Kiffin on a surprise relationship with Tom Herman
"I like helping first-year head coaches. I went down to see Tom Herman when he got to Houston and I had put down some notes for him, about 32 different things that no one teaches you until you become a head coach that you think about."
I never knew that Kiffin and Herman had a relationship at all, let alone one close enough where Kiffin could just show up and hang out in H-Town. That's pretty cool, actually.
Kiffin on how Nick Saban deals with the media
“You learn not to worry about what you can’t control and what’s out there. When I was younger I used to read everything. ‘Why is this guy saying this, why is this article saying this.’ That’s one of the things Coach Saban has taught me, he does not listen or read anything that’s out there at all. He says ‘why am I going to waste my time?” No disrespect to the media, but he says ‘I really don’t care what they say. I care about what’s going on in my program. If I’m reading that, I’m wasting time that I could be watching film or recruiting players.'"
And this is why Saban is the G.O.A.T., ladies and gentlemen.
Kiffin on his relationship with Saban
"Coach Saban and I have a great relationship, regardless of what people may think. I get my ass chewings from time to time. I’ve learned to accept those."
Kiffin has never been one to avoid self-depricating humor.
Kiffin on his father Monte's advice
"I actually followed my dad’s advice for once [in accepting the FAU job]. My dad, when I was young he used to say ‘be very, very careful who you follow and where the program is at. You don’t want to follow someone who has made the program, you want to go somewhere where the program has been struggling… so, I really listened to him [in this case]. I followed Pete Carroll at USC [before]. So that was really smart. That worked out really well."
This was supposed to be Kiffin describing how he plans to build FAU, but devolved into something else completely different altogether. Not that we're complaining.
On the difference between the media covering FAU and USC
"This is easy, there’s got to be some hard questions here. This ain’t like L.A."
Good stuff from Kiffin here.
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Kiffin on if he has a 'message' for the other coaches in Conference USA
"I’m not concerned about sending a ‘message’ to the conference. I’ve sent those messages before like to coach [Urban] Meyer when he and Tennessee were in the same conference. We were gonna sing ‘Rocky Top’ all night long in The Swamp. So, that didn’t go over very well. So it’s taken about 8-10 years to get back buddies with Coach Meyer. We’re a lot better now. Or accusing him of cheating."
This was actually, laugh out loud funny stuff. I encourage you to find the video of the presser if you have a second.
On why he's excited to be at FAU
"I said this to someone on the phone last night, I was just sitting there in the office by myself. And you’re probably not going to believe this, but I said ‘this is my fourth head job, and I’m sitting in this chair’… and I was the most excited that I’ve been of any job [I’ve had]. And I know, how can you believe that. [I’ve coached] at USC, Tennessee, the Oakland Raiders. Because it’s just a different place and different feeling, of being a place where it’s never been done before… rather than trying to do what’s already been done."
In all honesty this was a sincere, genuine moment from Kiffin and one that made me believe watching, that yes, maybe he might be changed this time around. Is he? Only time will tell. But I for one, am rooting for him.