Saban just loves dealing with Kiffin nonsense

Nick Saban much prefers talking about the semifinal trophy he just won in Atlanta to discussing the comings and goings of Lane Kiffin. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Nick Saban much prefers talking about the semifinal trophy he just won in Atlanta to discussing the comings and goings of Lane Kiffin. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

They don’t throw down in the pews at church. They aren’t likely to open The Undertow Pool at White Water. And, in the same determined vein, they don’t do turmoil at Alabama.

Which makes the little Lane Kiffin kerfuffel over in Tuscaloosa all the more entertaining – because it is just so out of character for the place. Nick Saban likes to keep things as smooth as a Marine’s bunk at inspection time. Any distraction is treated like the ultimate threat to his rule.

In retrospect, Saban made a risky (read that wrong) call keeping Kiffin around after his guy took the downward sloping career path to Florida Atlantic. This wasn’t Kirby Smart, the good soldier who last season juggled the Crimson Tide defensive coordinator job after having been hired by Georgia. In Kiffin, here was coaching’s version of a tagged hummingbird released from captivity – it’s going to dart off in any direction it pleases. Any thinking that he was capable of focusing on the needs of the Alabama offense once he lost any need to answer to Saban was wishful at best.

So, in the week leading up to the biggest game of the year, Alabama has a new offensive coordinator – Steve Sarkisian, who had been getting himself clean while watching game tape at Alabama.

To hear Saban, who was on a teleconference Tuesday afternoon, it is all business as usual around the happy-go-lucky coaching offices at Alabama. “I don’t think there’s a whole lot more to say about (the coaching drama),” he said. “Our coaches are working hard to try to put the best game plan we can together to play against a very good Clemson defense.”

And he just loved talking about this last-minute shift of his lieutenants.

Said Saban: “I don’t know why y’all keep asking me what changes we’re going to make (with the change at coordinator). (Clemson coach Dabo Swinney) is a good friend of mine – maybe I’ll just call him up and tell him what we’re going to do.”

And: “There’s no why. There’s no if. There’s no but. It just is what it is. We’re moving forward, so let’s talk about the game.”

As much as Saban would prefer to dismiss all this as inconsequential, there remains the question of what affect the change will have on Alabama come game time next Monday night. There is a new voice now in the ear of the Tide’s freshman quarterback. There are, with just one game to play, relationships to form (including the one between the head coach and the coordinator). And Clemson’s defense just took Ohio State’s soul.

Earlier in the day, Kiffin went on ESPN radio and said there were feelers out about allowing him in the Alabama coaches’ box for the national championship game. As if Saban would want to deal with that particular stick in the eye.

Dude, they want you to just go away. Just go to Boca and get in on some of that fine, inexpensive 4 p.m. dining. Or make a detour to a network studio for a bit off championship game analyst work – that would be some great reality TV.

Otherwise, if I were Clemson, I would take a small amount of joy in the discomfort that the Crimson Tide is undergoing now. Anything to throw off their methodical march. Anything to suggest a vulnerability where before there seemed none.

One effect: Under Sarkisian, Alabama is likely to show up Monday with a more circumspect game plan than the one Kiffin broke out in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Although Saban won’t call his buddy in South Carolina to confirm that.

But was this a real tipping point, especially in a game that matches up as beautifully as this?

Doubtful. If Clemson wins, it would seem particularly unfair to the Tigers – and galling in general – to say that it all came down to too little Lane Kiffin.

Reader Comments 0

42 comments
dawg fan
dawg fan

Whatever happens Monday night both teams had a great season and deserved to be there unlike a certain overrated fraud from Ohio who got there on BS hype and an adoring fan club in the media. I'd rather go to the Liberty bowl than be a fraud. That team from Ohio was living a lie and probably can't look itself in the mirror. Sad.

OH:IO
OH:IO

Clemson - 31


Bama - 0

dawg fan
dawg fan

Clemson should be well rested and fresh after that cream puff game last week.

Oldknight
Oldknight

Well when you've got a new guy talking to you in your headset and you're a freshman I'm just  not sure about this.


I hope Saban's ego didn't do him in this time.  Kiffin needed to go before he even got there but this is a freshman kid who can't throw it down field...yet.  Hopefully the talent will win this thing.  Roll Tide. 

dawg fan
dawg fan

Bama is overrated. This isn't a vintage Nick Saban Bama team if you ask me. I'm seeing a good bit of smack talk in the press about other teams being "soft" and dominating Clemson. They're reading their press clippings. Who did they really play this year? When we're they ever really challenged? Washington is probably the best team they played. The SEC was a dumpster fire of mediocrity. I think Clemson smacks them down into reality.

OH:IO
OH:IO

@dawg fan



Come on, man. 


Bama played UT Chattanooga in late November



DawgNole
DawgNole

@OH:IO

And your overrated twerps played Bowling Green in early September.

So what?!

bigmacondawg
bigmacondawg

I wish we had Kiffin rather than Kirby.  Kirby is going to be a bust.

GoldenHand
GoldenHand

I heard Kiffin was out at FAU already, over a resume scandal reminiscent of George O'Leary. Seems Kiffin didn't tell them he'd already failed as a head coach three times.

WardinConyers
WardinConyers

Although I am not a fan of Kiffen, have you ever thought that maybe Kiffen went to FAU to work where there was less pressure to win?  That way, even minor improvement might be a bigger deal.  I think that's why Tubby Smith(remember him?) left UGA for Minnesota.  

JKToole
JKToole

@WardinConyers Tubby left Georgia for Kentucky. He won a National Championship there in '98.

khd713
khd713

@WardinConyers Yeah, the basketball pressure at UGA is pretty intense. I guess that explains why Mark Fox has been there for eight years. Are you serious? Kiffin (it's spelled with an "I", not an "E") went to FAU because it was the only head coaching job he was offered, and because he had become persona non grata at Alabama just like everywhere else he's been (you might want to do some research on why he got divorced). And while I would argue the basketball pressure at Minnesota is several degrees more intense than it is at Georgia, Tubby did not go to Minnesota from Athens! He went to Kentucky. Jeez. People who make posts like yours should be banned from commenting for at least one year.

TideDawg
TideDawg

The media refuses to accept anything at face value. What if it was a mutual decision? When Saban sees something going wrong with Alabama, he fixes it, but he can't change what the media writes. If you think he would make a change that would hurt his team's chances of winning......you'e wrong!

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@TideDawg  I feel sorry for FAU, although they should already know what they are getting: a man who has been less than great, for one reason or another, at at least his last 3 stops.  An embarrassment to the schools involved.

Infraredguy
Infraredguy

Clemson has a chance to beat Alabama but the play calling by Alabama will have little to do with it, it's all about player execution and in that category Alabama wins with pure talent.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@Infraredguy You're right. If Alabama plays their best and Clemson plays their best.....Alabama will win. Alabama's team didn't move to FAU only the coach that had the worst offensive game plan of the year against Washington moved to FAU.

DBarzini
DBarzini

Calling plays with an offense loaded with 5-star players is not rocket science---Sark will do just as good as Lane. But, it may not be good enough to beat clemson.

TOJacket
TOJacket

Kirby isn't close to being as good a "coach" as Kiffin...I said coach not person.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

Your Dawg hatred is showing through.

What has Kiffen done as a HC besides getting fired--until this Fla Atlantic gig?

Does he even have as good a winning percentage as Smart as a HC?

I don't believe so. 

Don't be a hater.

TOJacket
TOJacket

@DawgNole @TOJacket My opinion sport...you gave yours huh?....you mutts are a trip. Grow a set and come to Bradleys blog...the other coward dawgs tuck that tail and got out of there...lol

TOJacket
TOJacket

@DawgNole @TOJacket And once again you show your ignorance junior....would he have gotten all those jiobs if he didn't have something they wanted....Kirby got the 3rd place team in the worst division in the Power 5.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket @DawgNole 

My ignorance? This coming from someone who can't post a literate sentence? Yeah, right.

And again, you're dodging the relevant question: Which HC has a better winning percentage? 

Well, gutless? Answer the damn question--or are you too ignorant?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket 

I've been on Bradley's blog, idiot. Can you read? And as usual, your mindless drivel dumbs it down for everyone else.

Your opinion? You mean your hateful opinion?

Why don't you answer the question I posed since you're now kissing Kiffin's balls like you do 0h:i0's: Which HC has a better W-L percentage?

You gonna dodge that one, too--like you do every other one I ask you that you're too ignorant to answer?

TOJacket
TOJacket

@DawgNole @TOJacket And got no retort for Mulk...he must have perfect grammar because that's all you got girly man.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket @DawgNole

Still dodging the question and deflecting. Kiffin or Smart? Nobody was talking about Richt. The longer you dodge/deflect, the more it shows your fellow posters how truly ignorant and cowardly you are. There is no bigger coward than one who dodges relevant questions.

Which head coach has the better winning percentage? And don't pretend you don't know which coaches I'm referencing.

You've been exposed yet again as a lying idiot who deflects and dodges every time his mindless proclamations are slapped down.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@GoldenHand

Irrelevant to my question.

I asked what his winning percentage was as a head coach! Period.

So go ahead and post it next to Smart's .615.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

Do you ever post an original thought, or do you simply parrot others?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@TOJacket

Why would I respond to Mulk, fool? Am I supposed to respond to everyone on here?

When you stop lying and start posting correctly, I won't respond to you either.


Mulk
Mulk

"juggling the Bama defensive coordinator job" was what Smart did for 9 years. EVERYBODY knew that the D was Saban's.