Preview 2017: How Will Lane Kiffin Succeed?
What’s the best possible outcome from the Lane Kiffin era at Florida Atlantic?
So what’s the best possible result for all sides out of the Lane Kiffin experience at Florida Atlantic?
Obviously, he’s a rental if things go well, but it might not be that cut-and-dry considering – again, obviously – this is a rehabilitation effort for both Kiffin and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles. For this to work for them, they can’t just win games, and they can’t just succeed. They have to blow up and be so good that the next-step-up job can overlook all of the issues.
Yeah, Kiffin has managed to make everyone mad everywhere he went, but the harsh reality is that he was successful in his one year at Tennessee. He did a great job at USC, considering he was the coach who had to deal with the fallout from the Reggie Bush sanctions. He really was part of the reason Alabama maintained its national championship superpower status.
But because of the bad blood and the problems at every stop, what Power Five program will want to take this on? Of course, maybe a struggling one like, eventually, Iowa State, Oregon State or Illinois, but Kiffin’s not getting something like – if any of these open up – Texas A&M, Kansas State or Nebraska unless he’s so amazing that he’s a must hire.
Briles isn’t going to be touched for a head coaching job for a long, long time – if at all – because of his issues at Baylor, but – and not to just blow off those issues as anything other than massive – he knows how to crank up an offense.
Throw in the controversial signing of former Florida State quarterback De’Andre Johnson – who’ll continue to battle with Jason Driskel for the job – and FAU is going all in to try making the football program successful no matter what the PR fallout might be.
So for Florida Atlantic, the best and most realistic scenario would be for Kiffin to turn the program into a Conference USA title contender within the next two years, and then this becomes another Western Kentucky situation where great coaching prospects make this a great step-up job.
For Kiffin, he doesn’t just win, but his offenses go all WKU and become among the best in the country, while beating a few non-conference big boys along the way. Within the next two years, he shows the world why he really was considered the next hot shot coach so many years ago, and for its trouble, Florida Atlantic has a head coach who, talent-wise, could still be at Tennessee or USC.
Now, all Kiffin and company need to do is actually win.
The offense isn’t going to be a problem. The Owls have a devastating stable of running backs and a good fight at quarterback if Johnson doesn’t own the job in fall camp. With the sped-up tempo, the receiving corps loaded with veterans should all of a sudden put up crazy numbers.
The other side is the bigger issue right away, with one of of the nation’s worst defenses having to figure out what a stop looks like. Equally bad in all phases, at least the miserable D of last year returns loaded with good-tackling veterans in the secondary and a killer of a linebacker in Azeez Al-Shaair to start with.
This will be a lot of things over the next few seasons, but no matter what, it’s not going to be boring.
And that’s exactly what Florida Atlantic football needs and wants.