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Lane Kiffin’s leaving for FAU, but still plans to coach for Alabama in the Playoff

The Lane Train is leaving the Tuscaloosa station.

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Alabama vs Florida Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will be the new head coach at Florida Atlantic after also being of interest to Houston and USF, plus LSU as a potential offensive coordinator.

He said this before the hiring circus began:

“I’m not worried about that,” he said, according to SEC Country, regarding other jobs. “I want to keep winning these next two games. It’d be really special to do.”

And Bama head coach Nick Saban confirmed the plan after FAU’s hire:

The Friday before the SEC Championship, Saban openly vouched for Kiffin, who’s been on staff for three seasons, to get another head coaching job:

I mean he's proven, when he was a head coach, he had a reasonably good amount of success, much more than I think he gets credit for, and he's done a phenomenal job in the three years that he's been with us relative to taking the players that we had and actually molding a system, especially for the quarterback to be successful in, and I think those are signs of tremendous maturity as a coach who is not just committed to a system, but is committed to doing the things that he has to do to help players be successful.

Saban was asked after the game whether or not Kiffin would coach the team throughout its Playoff run, which begins in the Peach Bowl against Washington:

I think it depends on the circumstance and the situation, and I think those are things that people have to agree on relative to what their goals and aspirations are, the circumstance and situation that they're in, their commitment to our players and our team, and do we think it's going to affect our organization long term.

Nowadays, coaches who stay in their current jobs when they have already accepted another is not an uncommon thing in college football. In 2014, when Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman accepted the job as Houston’s head coach, he remained with the team through the Playoff, which included a win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl Playoff semifinal and a National Championship victory over Oregon.

There is also Kirby Smart, who remained Alabama’s defensive coordinator in both the Playoff semifinal win over Michigan State and in the National Championship victory against Clemson after accepting the job as Georgia’s head coach.

At Alabama, Kiffin’s shown off his versatility as an offensive coordinator, working with a variety of personnel and being able to adjust the system accordingly. The culmination of that has been how well he’s utilizing the spread offense under true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts.

Spending three seasons under Saban is presumably another reason for Kiffin’s rising coaching stock, and you could guess programs are thinking the Alabama head coach has rubbed off on Kiffin a little.