Alabama announced Saturday that Lane Kiffin has confirmed he will return as the Crimson Tide's offensive coordinator for the 2015 season, ending speculation that the 39-year-old coach could be headed back to the NFL.
"I made a comment at the Sugar Bowl that I would be back this fall at Alabama and that is definitely the plan. This time of year, there are lots of things out there regarding other coaching opportunities, but I want to reaffirm my commitment to the University of Alabama, Coach Saban, and our team," Kiffin said in a statement released by the school. "I'm excited about what our offensive staff was able to accomplish last year, but I also think there are a lot of things we can do a better job of in terms of putting our players in the best situation to have success."
Earlier this week, Saban had indicated he was uncertain if Kiffin would be back with the Tide in 2015, as reports swirled that Kiffin was a candidate to become the 49ers' offensive coordinator under new head coach Jim Tomsula. Kiffin was 5-15 as head coach of the Oakland Raiders before being fired in the midst of his second season. He has never been an assistant coach in the NFL.
"We're very pleased and happy that Lane is going to be staying here at the University of Alabama with us," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said in a statement. "He's done a fabulous job and is one of the finest offensive coaches in the country. He is going to have plenty of opportunities in the future and we want to continue to help him develop as a coach so when he leaves here, he'll be in a very good situation. Our offense was extremely productive last season and we look forward to building on some of the good things we did on that side of the ball with this year's team."
It's uncommon, if not unprecedented, for Saban to release news of an assistant coach remaining on staff. According to Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News, the potential impact of Kiffin's rumored departure could have motivated the announcement. National signing day is Feb. 4, and speculation about a coordinator leaving the program is sometimes cause for alarm with top recruits.
Added Kiffin: "After being here for a year, I can see why this is such a special place in terms of the history, tradition, and how much football means to everyone at Alabama. I also have learned so much in the time I've spent with Coach Saban and really have a better understanding of what makes him the great coach that he is. I think the more time I can spend learning from him, the better coach I will be in the future."
Alabama's offense broke several team and individual records in Kiffin's first season at Alabama, despite a new starter at quarterback in Blake Sims and a new left tackle in freshman Cam Robinson.