Lane Kiffin may have earned the head coaching job he coveted so badly, but now the work is just beginning.
Florida Atlantic offers Kiffin a FBS coaching job in fertile recruiting ground, even if it required a pay cut. But what he walks into is a state full of championship-caliber Power 5 programs with strong coaches in place to potentially out-recruit him.
On Monday’s episode of The Paul Finebaum Show, Finebaum showed some hesitancy to anoint Kiffin as one of the state’s top coaches. In fact, he said that Kiffin may not be one of the state’s top four FBS football coaches.
“Kiffin may not rank among the top 4 coaches in his own state,” Finebaum said on Monday. “Only if he wins big.”
That sounds crazy, but it actually may be true. Finebaum cited Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Florida’s Jim McElwain and Miami’s Mark Richt as better coaches sitting at much better jobs. He also gave the nod to new South Florida coach Charlie Strong over Kiffin because of his strong recruiting ties in the area after many years as an assistant coach at Florida.
Finebaum did give Kiffin the benefit of the doubt over new FIU coach Butch Davis, who is a former Miami coach, and UCF coach Scott Frost, though there is a realistic argument to be made for each of those coaches over Kiffin as well.
Finebaum took it a step further and implied that Kiffin may not even belong at the top of the list of coaches in Conference USA.
“I mean, you think about the coaches that are in that league,” Finebaum said. “You’ve got (Middle Tennessee coach) Rick Stockstill, Butch (Davis) now at FIU, you’ve got (Skip) Holtz in that league. I mean, these are some pretty good coaches.”
It will be interesting to see how Kiffin fares as a head coach in a competitive state at a school that has less resources than some of the more traditional programs. Especially after his last three coaching stops (Alabama, USC and Tennessee) afforded him some of the best resources college football has to offer.