FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Florida Atlantic University head coach Lane Kiffin would be a controversial choice for the same job at Arkansas, but he has proven he can win games.
As noted, Kiffin can be controversial at times, but he would bring NFL, SEC and other head coaching experience to Arkansas. He is in his third season at FAU and is 7-3.
They will travel to play UTSA on Saturday and then close out the regular season on Nov. 30 at home in Boca Raton by hosting Southern Miss. ESPN’s Power Football Index has them favored to win their final two games thus with a 9-3 record.
Kiffin saw him team start the season 0-2. The losses were to Ohio State 45-21 and UCF 48-14. The only blemish on the record since then was a 36-31 thriller to Marshall on Oct. 18.
He is now 23-13 with FAU including a mark of 11-3 in 2017. FAU did suffer a losing season in 2018 when it finished 5-7. Losing seasons aren’t the norm for Kiffin outside of his time as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. In 2007 he was 4-14 with the Raiders and then started the next season 1-4 before the team made a change.
In 2009, Kiffin spent one season as head coach at Tennessee. The Vols finished 7-6 and 4-4 for second place in the SEC East. The Vols were blasted by Virginia Tech 37-14 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Kiffin then left Knoxville for USC. At USC, Kiffin never had a losing season. In 2010, they were 8-5. The following year he led the Trojans to a 10-2 mark and finished ranked No. 6 in nation. They fell to 7-6 in 2012 and started 3-2 in 2013 before being fired on Sept. 29.
He served as offensive coordinator while coaching the quarterbacks for Nick Saban from 2014-16. He was a finalist for the Broyles Award in 2014.
Kiffin has ties to Arkansas since his father, Monte, was the defensive coordinator with the Razorbacks from 1977-79. He added assistant head coach to his title in 1979. He now serves as a defensive analyst and NFL liaison for Lane at FAU.
Kiffin currently has several familiar names on his staff though probably none bigger than Lance Thompson who coaches the defensive line and is recruiting coordinator.
He also has former Fort Smith Southside standout Jeff Norrid coaching the offensive line. Norrid is a graduate from the University of Arkansas. Charlie Weis Jr. is the offensive coordinator and coaches the quarterbacks. Former Alabama safety Wes Neighbors coaches that position for Kiffin. Clint Trickett, who was a quarterback for Florida State and West Virginia, coaches tight ends. Trickett is the son of Rick who was the long time offensive line coach for Florida State.
Kiffin is 1-2 in bowl games with the loss to Virginia Tech and then beat Akron 50-3 in the 2017 Boca Raton Bowl. He lost to Georgia Tech 21-7 in the 2012 Sun Bowl while at USC.
Among the former assistants under Kiffin who are now head coaches are Ed Orgeron (LSU), Frank Wilson (UTSA) and Clay Helton (USC).
Kiffin was a serious candidate for the Arkansas job when Bobby Petrino was hired. That was with Jeff Long. Will Hunter Yurachek look in that direction now?