EXCLUSIVE: Lane Kiffin on Twitter Controversy, Why He Chose FAU over Bigger Programs

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Roughly a decade ago, Lane Kiffin became one of the youngest head coaches in NFL history at age 31 when he accepted the Oakland Raiders.

Since then he’s had short stints at Tennessee, USC and Alabama. After departing from the Crimson Tide earlier this year, Kiffin was offered a number of opportunities at powerhouse college football programs all across the country. Thus, many were a bit surprised when he chose Florida Atlantic University over the more brand name programs.

What made FAU more appealing? We asked Lane Kiffin this exact question during our exclusive with the Owls Head Coach.

lane-kiffin

“The direction of the leadership was the biggest part,” he responded. “After meeting with Anthony Barbar and Abdul Moabery, I could see that they wanted to build a championship program.”

If you look down the list of offers he received from big-name schools, a fair amount of them were offensive coordinator opportunities as opposed to head coaching positions. Many assumed the chance of being a head coach again outweighed the opportunities at more prestigious programs.

Kiffin refutes that idea.

“No, it wasn’t just about being a head coach again. I wanted to make sure it was the right fit, a place where I could win, because I wasn’t just going to take a job to take a job. I was very happy there at Alabama. There were other opportunities that were interesting, but after I visited here, I decided that this was the place to be.”

lane kiffin

One prestige programs that offered Lane Kiffin their OC gig was Alabama’s arch-rival LSU. Kiffin discussed just how much he considered pulling a reverse career maneuver of Nick Saban.

“I did consider that,” he said.

“I really think they’re going to make a championship run under coach Orgeron. I really felt like they had one of the best defensive schemes and the best defensive coordinators in the country. I thought it could be a really good fit. And having known the SEC very well, I would have had a jump-start there versus going to a different conference. It was intriguing.”

After being fired by Alabama just before the national championship game, one would expect the presence of at least a little bit of tension. Kiffin claims no hard feelings between him and his former team. He even remains in touch with several people in the Crimson Tide family.

“Great relationship. I texted and talked to a number of the guys who got drafted last week. They’ve got a lot of really special kids, and a great staff too, a number of them I still communicate with.”

lane kiffin

Naturally, the current focus for Lane Kiffin is the future direction he’ll take FAU football.

“I hope we continue to improve on all three phases of our game – offense, defense and special teams. It’s not about X amount of wins, it’s about really building the program and just continuing to make the small wins. We become a better program every day.”

Kiffin’s career arc has taken him from the NFL to a small Conference USA program. In a sense, it seems like things have almost gone backwards.

lane kiffin

“Well, I was very fortunate to get some incredible opportunities at a very young age. It has kind of gone backwards, most of the time it goes the other way. I made a lot of rookie head coach types of mistakes, and it caused a national scene.

“It is what it is. I’m extremely happy to have this opportunity here, and I’m just going to continue to build on that.”

This offseason, Kiffin’s Twitter has seen some off-the-wall tweets, which have raised a lot of questions. As it turns out, it wasn’t Kiffin at all who made the postings – but a ninth-grader whose father is on his FAU staff.

“Chase is a good friend. Chase’s father is on out board of trustees here,” he said.

“And so I was with him, actually serving ice cream to help raise money for kids with cancer, and I took him to the event with me.

“So, he was messing around and kept sending jokes all day. It was pretty funny, and he was like ‘hey, put those on your Twitter. So I let him go on my Twitter and do that.”

In a very similar interview on the same day, Kiffin had something to say about all the buzz the incident has caused.

“Hey, my message to everybody if I did care would be: lighten up a little bit. Life’s too short.”

Crissy Froyd is a student residing in Spring,Texas. She currently covers sports for The Bank, USA TODAY SMG and SB Nation. Her work has also been featured on FOXsports.com and Yahoo! Sports. Crissy is enrolled at Stephen F. Austin State University, and is majoring in Mass Communications.

Find her on Twitter @crissy_froyd.

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