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Nick Saban hires Lane Kiffin as offensive coordinator

David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Lane Kiffin has been hired by Nick Saban to serve as Alabama's offensive coordinator.

Nick Saban has hired Lane Kiffin as Alabama's next offensive coordinator.

Alabama's official Twitter feed confirmed the news Friday afternoon, and ESPN.com's Joe Schad reported via Twitter that Kiffin's contract has a three-year term, which is extensive even for a coordinator. Terms of the deal were otherwise undisclosed, though it wouldn't be surprising if Alabama soon became the second FBS program to have two coordinators under contract for more than $1 million per year each. LSU coach Les Miles set that mark when first-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron signed a deal that will pay him more than $1 million in 2014, and defensive coordinator John Chavis was at $1.1 million already.

Kiffin reportedly earned about $2.6 million for 2013 from Southern Cal, and given his past success as an offensive coordinator there, he would probably merit a contract that puts him among the top tier of coordinator salaries in the college game. Alabama, in turn, is known to pay its assistants handsomely. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart became the program's first million-dollar coordinator when he received his most recent raise, and outgoing offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier was earning $680,000 per year.

A search that barely had time to get started finished with Kiffin, the fired Southern Cal coach who spent a number of days with the Crimson Tide program last month in a capacity described as everything from visitor to consultant. Nussmeier, who was Alabama's offensive coordinator the past two seasons, accepted the same position at Michigan earlier this week, and the following morning, Kiffin was reported to be interviewing with Saban.

Other names linked to the opening included Chicago Bears wide receivers coach Mike Groh, Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks coach Freddie Kitchens and Alabama receivers coach Billy Napier.

While Saban and Kiffin seem to be an odd mix in terms of personalities, they profess many of the same principles offensively, having come from pro-style backgrounds. Kiffin's offenses at Southern Cal, his last stop as an offensive coordinator before head coaching stops with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee and finally USC, were explosive by any measure. His best offense with the Trojans came in 2005, when the quarterback-running back tandem of Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush averaged nearly 50 points and 600 yards per game on the way to a BCS championship loss to Texas.

Said Kiffin in an Alabama release:

"We want to thank the University of Alabama and Coach Saban for this tremendous opportunity, and we feel humbled and honored to be a part of the Crimson Tide family. I've always had the utmost respect for what Coach Saban has done with his programs. Having the unique opportunity to be here last month, I was able to meet some of the great players and the great people in the organization, and I'm very excited to start working with them."

Kiffin's well-known penchant for controversy, and for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, couldn't be better-sheltered than under Saban's program, which prohibits assistant coaches from speaking to the media. Position coaches don't speak at all, and coordinators at Alabama typically address media only twice a year, once during fall camp and again during bowl week.

One of Kiffin's first tasks will be to find the Crimson Tide's next starting quarterback from an inexperienced cast that served as backups to AJ McCarron. McCarron, a senior, has taken every meaningful snap the last three seasons, with Blake Sims primarily handling the latter minutes of Alabama's lopsided wins. Kiffin is also known to be a top-notch recruiter, a skill Saban holds of high importance with his assistant coaches. Kiffin has been involved in recruiting some of the nation's elite talents at previous stops, though the results of his recruiting efforts in one year at Tennessee came under some fire.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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