Nick Saban on Lane Kiffin: “I don’t know what his issues were as a head coach”
Nick Saban is probably not a Backstreet Boys fan. But you wouldn’t guess that based on his hiring policy, which seems eerily similar to the Boys’ 1997 hit “As Long As You Love Me.”
I don’t care who you are
Where you’re from
What you did
As long as you love me
Just sub in “The Process” for “me” in that last line, and it’s basically a perfect match.
This June, Saban taped an episode of The Golf Channel’s Feherty, which will air Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET. Much of it featured host David Feherty interviewing Saban 1-on-1, and the conversation eventually landed on hiring and firing assistant coaches.
“Some guys want to be what I call independent contractors,” Saban said. “I hire coaches to do what we want them to do. Some coaches want to get hired to do what they want to do.”
By buying into Alabama’s program, the logic goes, there are few bumps in the road when a coordinator leaves Tuscaloosa for a better job.
Most of the country is familiar with Lane Kiffin, who is currently serving as Saban’s offensive coordinator. Kiffin has alienated higher-ups and fans alike while leaving destruction in his wake in the NFL, at Tennessee, and at USC.
But Saban hired him in 2014 because, well, none of that mattered.
“I don’t know what his issues were as a head coach, but that’s not what we hired him for,” Saban said. “We have one of those. We don’t need that.”
He praised Kiffin for his job with quarterback Blake Sims, who went from unknown to Alabama record holder while leading the Tide to the College Football Playoff last season.
“We had as good of offensive production last year as maybe we’ve ever had,” Saban said. “Lane deserves a lot of credit for that.”
The Tide offense has had some quarterback issues again this season, but ‘Bama has still averaged 35.8 points per game.
“Lane does a great job for what we want him to do,” Saban said. “He’s a great play-caller. He’s a really good teacher. He’s got great relationships with the players … I think he’s a great offensive coordinator.”