Lane Kiffin and the Houston Cougars have reportedly agreed to terms for the Alabama offensive coordinator to become their next head coach, per media reports.
Houston lost their former head coach Tom Herman following the completion of the regular season after he was named the new head coach at Texas, leaving a void at Houston. Kiffin is known for being an excellent offensive coach, but he’s had some rocky stops as a head coach, previously at Tennessee and USC.
Dan Wolken of USA Today reported though the move hasn’t been officially announced, Houston has decided on Kiffin:
“Though it’s possible Houston could backtrack, Kiffin has been operating as if he will become the next Houston coach as of Wednesday night.”
Kiffin was the head coach for one season at Tennessee in 2009, finishing 7-6 with a loss in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Kiffin then bolted to USC from 2010-13, compiling an overall record of 28-15, including seasons of 8-5, 10-2, 7-6, and 3-2 as he was fired after five games in 2013.
Alabama hired the embattled head coach to be their offensive coordinator in 2014, a post he’s held through this season. Alabama is 13-0 overall entering the College Football Playoff, and with Kiffin as their offensive coordinator, Alabama is averaging nearly eight yards per attempt passing and 5.7 yards per rush.
Houston could be getting a head coach in Kiffin who has been described as an “offensive genius.” In 2014, former Alabama and current Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper told Michael Casgrande of AL.com about how Kiffin changed the offense and helped his career.
“Oh, he’s made a huge difference in our offense,” Cooper said Friday. “He’s very tactical, a schematic guy. He’s a genius as a coach and I really like him a lot.”
In joining Houston, Kiffin now must not only take over a program that was already 34th in yards per game offensively (459.2) under Herman, but leaves a powerful program like Alabama that was 26th overall under his watch with a 471.3 yards per game average.
Though offense is what Kiffin is known for, his father, coaching legend Monte Kiffin was known for having some of the best defensive units in all of football when he was a defensive coordinator in the NFL. The younger Kiffin inherits a defense which ranked 14th overall in the FBS, allowing 325 yards per game.
During his stops at Tennessee and USC, neither ended well for Kiffin, especially at Tennessee. He left on his own after a seven-win season to take his “dream job” at USC. The stop with the Trojans ended with a nightmare, as not enough wins occurred after sanctions on the program expired.
One plus about Kiffin’s career as a head coach is he has an overall winning record of 35-21, and none of his teams have ever finished with a losing record for a season. That said, those same teams never lived up to their full potential either, resulting in Kiffin returning to rebuild his career at Alabama under head coach Nick Saban.
Kiffin got back into the spotlight after Alabama won the National Championship last season, and this year he’s been the offensive coordinator of a program that has a freshman at quarterback in Jalen Hurts who has the team right back where they were last season.
Houston has been a quality program as of late (9-3 in 2016), and their previous head coaches have moved on to higher paying and more lucrative coaching jobs. Interest will be high in seeing how Kiffin performs as a head coach again. Houston plays in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 17 against San Diego State. Though Kiffin will most likely just watch the team during that game, it will be interesting to see how he puts his stamp on the Houston program as their new head coach.
[Featured Image by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]