Lay off of Lane Kiffin, OK? Because Nick Saban says to.
One game into Kiffin's first season as offensive coordinator at Alabama, the Crimson Tide piled up 538 yards of offense Saturday in a 33-23 win over West Virginia. And after all the heat Kiffin has drawn as a head coach at various stops in his career -- from the Oakland Raiders, to Tennessee, to his midseason firing from USC last year -- Saban was quick to defend his top offensive assistant after the game.
"You know, the guy is a really good coach now, all right," Saban said, according to al.com. "Y'all need to fess up to that. And most places that don't like him is because he left and they were mad because he left. They weren't mad about anything he did while he was there. Just do a little research on that."
OK, Nick. Let's do the research.
Kiffin's record as head coach of the Oakland Raiders was 5-15, ending in a midseason firing with the club at 1-3 in 2008. Then owner Al Davis called Kiffin a liar in announcing his ouster. Here's guessing Raiders fans were a lot more upset with the losses under him than the loss of him. From there, it was off to Tennessee, where Kiffin led the Volunteers to a 7-6 record. Blowout losses to Ole Miss and Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl didn't exactly endear Kiffin to that fan base, either. And anger over his departure was more about how he handled his exit than the exit itself. Last year, Kiffin endured his second midseason firing when he was let go as head coach at Southern Cal with a 3-2 record, immediately after a 62-41 loss to Arizona State. Southern Cal was so mad he left, interim coach Ed Orgeron briefly became the most popular guy in TrojanLand.
Kiffin could prove to be an outstanding coordinator for the Crimson Tide and is highly regarded for his offensive mind. Saturday night was an impressive start, and with the offensive talent Alabama has, Kiffin has a chance to look awfully good this season.
But he'll never be good enough for Saban to re-write his history.