Lane Kiffin Coaching Timeline: Tracing Career Path From USC To Alabama To Ole Miss

When it comes to coaching careers, few can mark the highest ups and downs and lows that Lane Kiffin experienced.

Current Ole Miss manager Kiffin has a resume that includes stops in some of the best football programs, both college football and the NFL. But, while he’s secured those coaching opportunities, there’s a reason he’s got so many under his belt: Almost all of his stints have ended in controversy, from his first head coaching position with the Raiders on his stint as offensive coordinator in Alabama.

MORE: Lane Kiffin’s loaded Ole Miss offense, led by Matt Corral, ready for Alabama challenge

But to suggest that Kiffin is nothing less than a talented recruiter and a brilliant attacking spirit would be a lie. And despite his struggles as a head coach in multiple jobs, he has winning records at Tennessee, USC and Florida Atlantic – not to mention his current stint with the Rebels.

Kiffin, 46, still has a long way to go in his coaching career. He has apparently matured more over the years, particularly during and after his three-year stoppage in Alabama. Still, he’s never lost the personality – off the pitch, anyway – that makes him an attractive coach to players and potential rookies. He’s just as quick to drop an emoji or a rat poison joke on social media as he is to dial a beep that results in a hit.

With that, Sporting News takes a look at Kiffin’s winding coaching career, which started on the NFL West Coast and ended, for now, in Oxford, Mississippi:

The Raiders and the NFL

Coached seasons: 2007-08
Final registration: 5-15

The late Al Davis hired Kiffin, then 31, to be head coach of the Raiders on January 23, 2007. The move made Kiffin the most recent passing coordinator and offensive coordinator for USC. the youngest head coach in NFL history since the start. of his modern era in 1946. It also made him the youngest coach in Raiders history, as he was a year younger than John Madden (32) when he was promoted to that position in 1969. Kiffin signed a two-year contract worth $ 4. million euros, with a team option in 2009.

Kiffin’s move to Oakland was marred from the start: According to multiple reports, he took on the Raiders by selecting LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, which Davis ignored. After starting the season 0-2, Kiffin won his first game as a head coach on September 23, 2007, beating the Browns 26-24 after a late blocked field goal. He followed it up with a 35-17 victory over Miami the following week before losing his next six straight games. He won two more games in weeks 12 and 13 against the Broncos and Chiefs, respectively, but finished his season with four straight losses to go 4-12 in the first year.

ESPN reported in January 2008 that Davis attempted to force Kiffin to quit after the 2007 season, which would have nullified his $ 2 million salary for the following season. The Raiders have denied the story and Kiffin declined to comment. On September 30, 2008, Davis fired Kiffin after a 1-3 start to the season. He called the coach an “outright liar” and said he was guilty of “dishonoring the organization”. The Raiders have also said his dismissal was motivated, meaning they were off the hook for paying the rest of his salary. Among the evidence the Raiders presented against Kiffin was a letter claiming he was about to be fired for conduct detrimental to the team.

Kiffin filed a grievance against Oakland, claiming he was fired without cause; a third-party referee, however, ruled in favor of the Raiders. With that, Kiffin finished his first coaching job with a 5-15 record and more of a season and change.


Coached seasons: 2009
Final registration: 7-6

Kiffin was introduced as Tennessee’s head coach on December 1, 2008, making him the youngest coach in the FBS at 33. He led the team to a 7-6 record – an improvement over the previous year’s mark of 5-7 – and increased the team’s offensive production to 372.5 yards and 27.8 per game in 2008 at 401.5 yards and 32.5 points per game in 2009. He earned a ranked victory over the No.21 South Carolina, winning 31-13, and led the Volunteers to a narrow loss. 12-10 against Alabama, who needed two blocked goals to win the game.

That said, Kiffin’s tenure was still marked by controversy, including a mistaken charge against then-Florida coach Urban Meyer that he called a rookie on the Tennessee campus. Kiffin brought the charge in front of a crowd, inadvertently breaking an NCAA rule that prohibited him from speaking publicly about rookies. He was reprimanded by the SEC and forced to issue an apology statement.

After a 37-14 loss to Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Kiffin left his team midway through the 2010 recruiting season to return to his dream job at USC after Pete Carroll left for the Seattle Seahawks. The fact that he tried to take the mid-term entrants with him to USC with him added to the animosity between Kiffin and Tennessee.

The night he read a statement announcing he would be leaving Knoxville for Los Angeles, Kiffin was forced to barricade himself in his office until police escorted him home at 4 a.m. Fans and students have started several small fires following Kiffin’s decision, even blocking exits to the Neyland Sports Center in Thompson.

MORE: Who is Matt Corral? Meet the Ole Miss QB star at the head of Lane Kiffin’s offensive juggernaut


Coached seasons: 2010-13
Final registration: 28-15

Kiffin took over the Trojans program – which he coached under Carroll from 2001 to 2006, including the national championship seasons in 2003 and 2004 – on January 12, 2010. Six months later, the NCAA cited USC for a lack of institutional control under Carroll, lifting a two-year playoff ban and the loss of 30 purses over three seasons.

Kiffin led the Trojans to an 8-5 record in 2010 with just 71 stock players. The following season, he coached them to a 10-2 record. Due to their playoff ban, however, they were still not eligible to play in the Pac-10 championship game despite the South Division’s best record by far. The 2012 season was considerably less successful for Kiffin, who led the Trojans to a 7-6 record despite being placed No.1 in the Top 25 AP and the coaches poll to start the season.

Regarding the Coaching Survey that year: The 2012 season was the first year in which Kiffin was eligible to vote, although he quickly resigned just after selecting his squad as the pre-national team. -season # 1. The problem was not how he voted, but that he said “I would not vote for USC # 1, I can tell you the same” when he was informed that Rich Rodriguez of Arizona voted them at the top of his poll. USA Today revealed that Kiffin had, in fact, done just that.

Regardless, his team finished unranked at the end of the year, marking the first time since USC in 1963 that a team started the season number one but finished outside the top 25. .

Kiffin only lasted five games in the 2013 season, leading his team – which ultimately finished 10-4 – to a 3-2 start to the season. This included a 0-2 start in the Pac-12 game. The final straw was a 61-42 loss to Arizona State that gave Kiffin a 4-7 record in his last 11 games. After his team returned from Tempe, Ariz., Kiffin was taken off the team bus at Los Angeles International Airport at 3 a.m. on September 28. He was taken to a small room in the terminal and told by athletic director Pat Haden that he had been fired.


Coached seasons: 2014-16
Final registration: N / A

After his release from USC, Kiffin spent a week in Tuscaloosa in December to review Nick Saban’s offense. He eventually replaced Doug Nussmeier as the team’s offensive coordinator in January 2014, creating an offensive renaissance in Tuscaloosa.

While Kiffin’s arrival didn’t mark a significant increase in scoring or offensive production from 2013 to 2014, he did help implement a more open, faster attack that the Crimson Tide continues to use. . Under Kiffin’s tutelage, Alabama produced a Biletnikoff Award in Amari Cooper (2014), Heisman Trophy and Doak Walker Award (Derrick Henry) and SEC Offensive Player of the Year (2016). He also helped coach the Crimson Tide to a national championship in 2015, his first since the second of two USC titles in 2004.

Kiffin’s trip to Alabama was also not without controversy. In a Week 2 win over Western Kentucky, Kiffin was the subject of Saban’s disapproval after the offense dropped the ball, leading to a late score for the Hilltoppers. Saban – who called him “ass chews” after the game – reportedly reacted to Kiffin by saying “stupid players make stupid plays”.

Later in the season, Kiffin agreed to become Florida Atlantic’s next head coach, pledging to stay with Alabama during the college football playoffs. After a 24-7 victory over Washington in the semifinals, however, Saban relieved Kiffin of his duties, although he said the decision was mutual. The Crimson Tide would use former Kiffin’s offensive coordinator at USC, Steve Sarkisian, to call games against Clemson in the national championship game.

Alabama lost their first game of the season, 35-31.

MORE: Matt Corral vs. Bryce Young: Comparison of Ole Miss and Alabama QBs Stats at the Start of Battle for Heisman


Coached seasons: 2017-19
Final registration: 26-13

Florida Atlantic was Kiffin’s first practice stoppage that didn’t end in major controversy. After starting their first season in 2017 with a 1-3 record, the Kiffin Owls went 10 straight to go 11-3, claiming the American Conference title. Kiffin led the program not only to his second conference championship (the first was in 2007), but also to an academic record of 11 wins. It was the first season of 10 or more wins in school history.

The squad saw a significant drop in 2018, going 5-7, before Kiffin led the squad to a 10-3 record and another conference championship in 2019. However, after the victory of his team on UAB during the conference championship game, Ole Miss announced Kiffin would take over the Rebels program. Kiffin did not coach the team in their Boca Raton Bowl victory over SMU.

Ole Miss

Coached seasons: 2020-present

Following the Owls’ victory over UAB in the 2019 Conference U.S. Championship game, Ole Miss athletic director Keith Carter has confirmed that Kiffin will be the team’s next head coach. His team went 5-5 in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, but had narrow losses to Florida’s No.5 (35-31) and Alabama’s No.1 (63-38) and a 26-20 victory over the No. 11 Indiana in the Outback bowl.

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